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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Paperback – January 7, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 2,161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This genial book by New Yorker contributor Gladwell considers the elements needed to make a particular idea take hold. The "tipping point" (not a new phrase) occurs when something that began small (e.g., a few funky kids in New York's East Village wearing Hush Puppies) turns into something very large indeed (millions of Hush Puppies are sold). It depends on three rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. Episodes subjected to this paradigm here include Paul Revere's ride, the creation of the children's TV program Sesame Street, and the influence of subway shooter Bernie Goetz. The book has something of a pieced-together feel (reflecting, perhaps, the author's experience writing shorter pieces) and is definitely not the stuff of deep sociological thought. It is, however, an entertaining read that promises to be well publicized. Recommended for public libraries.
-Ellen Gilbert, Rutgers Univ. Lib., New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"...Gladwell manages to make sense of a tantalizing array of research findings." -- Lisbeth Schorr, Harvard Project on Effective Interventions, and author of Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America

"...a fascinating account...valuable..." -- Chicago Tribune, 3/26/00

"...a terrifically rewarding read..." -- Seattle Times, 3/24/00

"...brimming with new theories on the science of manipulation..." -- Time Out New York, 3/2-9/00

"Anyone interested in fads should read THE TIPPING POINT..." -- US Magazine, 3/27/00

"Hip and hopeful, The Tipping Point, is like the idea it describes: concise, elegant but packed with social power. A book for anyone who cares about how society works and how we can make it better." -- --George Stephanopoulos

"Malcolm Gladwell proposes a fascinating and possibly useful theory in "The Tipping Point"...what makes his book so appealing is the way he approaches his subject...he follows his precept of his subtitle and explores the little things that make a big difference..." -- New York Times, 2/28/00

"The Primary reason for the historic and rapid declines in crime and disorder in the subways and on the streets of New York City in the early 1990s was police activity. Police focused their activities on controlling illegal behavior to such an extent that they changed that behavior. Malcolm Gladwell's book and its theories, particularly the 'Power of Context,' clearly describes how crime and disorder were rapidly 'tipped.' It is a vital and 'must read' addition to the on-going debate about what really causes crime and disorder and how best to deal with it." -- --Commissioner William J. Bratton

"The Tipping Point is one of those rare books that changes the way you think about, well, everything. A combination of lucid explanation with vivid (and often funny) real-world examples, the book sets out to explain nothing less than why human beings behave the way they do. And, astonishingly, Malcolm Gladwell had the smarts and panache to pull it off." -- -Jeffrey Toobin, author of A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President

"What someone once said about the great Edmund Wilson is as true of Malcolm Gladwell: he gives ideas the quality of action. Here he's written a wonderful page turner about a fascinating idea that should effect the way every thinking person thinks about the world around him." -- --Michael Lewis Author of Liar's Poker and The New New Thing --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (January 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316346624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316346627
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read this book in part of one day - it's a good, quick read. Unlike some of the people who didn't care for the book - I never read the New Yorker article. It may be that the book doesn't add enough new info to excite folks who have read that article. But to me the book threw out a good number of new ideas and concepts very quickly and very clearly. I found his ability to draw a nexus between things that, on the surface seem very divergent, was very interesting, and he did it smoothly, without jumping around a lot.
The thrust of the book is that there are three things that can converge to bring about dramatic and perhaps unexpectedly fast changes in our society. These are the context (the situational environment - especially when it's near the balance or 'tipping point'), the idea, and the people involved. His point is that very small changes in any or several of the context, the quality of the idea (which he calls 'stickiness', ie how well the idea sticks), or whether the idea reaches a very small group of key people can trigger a dramatic epidemic of change in society.
"In a given process or system some people matter more than others." (p.19). "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts." (p.33).
He divides these gifted people into three categories: Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople. "Sprinkled among every walk of life ... are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors." (p. 41). "I always keep up with people." (p. 44 quoting a "Connector").
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Format: Paperback
I know negative reviews tend to get dismissed or lost in the shuffle, especially for wildly popular books such as Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point; however, I think it's important to chime in on how this book fails to deliver on its basic premise. In essence, the Tipping Point describes how certain types of people (who Gladwell refers to as connectors, mavens, and salesmen), and certain circumstances (the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context), can help turn fashion, books, television shows into epidemics, and turn crime waves and smoking trends upside-down. And here is where Gladwell's Tipping Point fails: he uses the data of real-life examples to reason backwards in the formation of his theory. When read closely and critically, Gladwell only describes THAT things `tip' and not WHY they `tip'. As Karl Popper said of Freudian Theory (and of all science), it must be falsifiable. Here it seems unlikely that any observation or experimental paradigm could be developed to falsify the theory of The Tipping Point, which again, makes this book not very scientific. For example, if a person or circumstance met one of Gladwell's criteria, but failed to tip the item/situation, would it call his theory into question? You see where I'm going with this? If something was `sticky' (which the law of stickiness says makes certain information at certain times, irresistible) but didn't tip, does that mean it was never `sticky', or does something need to tip in order for it to be deemed `sticky'. And now we're talking circular logic, maybe backwards logic; the type of theory written on the back of a cocktail napkin at 2am that sounds like it explains everything. Again, not good science. I was really looking forward to this book, but the over-simplifications, sheer repetitiveness, and poor execution of writing scientifically made for a highly disappointing read.
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By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for New Yorker Magazine, in The Tipping Point, writes a fascinating study of human behavior patterns, and shows us where the smallest things can trigger an epidemic of change. Though loaded with statistics, the numbers are presented in a way that makes the book read like an exciting novel. Gladwell also gives several examples in history, where one small change in behavior created a bigger change on a national level. He also studies the type of person or group that it takes to make that change.
Gladwell's first example is the resurgence of the popularity of Hush Puppies, which had long been out of fashion, and were only sold in small shoe stores. Suddenly, a group of teenage boys in East Village, New York, found the cool to wear. Word-of-mouth advertising that these trend-setters were wearing the once-popular suede shoes set off an epidemic of fashion change, and boys all over America had to have the "cool" shoes.
Galdwell also examines the difference in personality it takes to trigger the change. For example, we all know of Paul Revere's famous ride, but how many of us know that William Dawes made a similar ride? The difference was that people listened to Revere and not to Dawes. Why? Revere knew so many different people. He knew who led which village, knew which doors to knock on to rouse the colonists. Dawes didn't know that many people and therefore could only guess which people to give his message.
There are several other phenomena that Gladwell examines, showing the small things that spark a change, from the dip in the New York City crime rate to the correlation between depression, smoking and teen suicide. If you want to change the world for the better, this book will give you an insight into the methods that work, and those that will backfire. It's all in knowing where to find The Tipping Point.
Jo @ MyShelf.Com
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