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What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures Paperback – December 14, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Gladwell's fourth book comprises various contributions to the New Yorker and makes for an intriguing and often hilarious look at the hidden extraordinary. He wonders what... hair dye tell[s] us about twentieth century history, and observes firsthand dog whisperer Cesar Millan's uncanny ability to understand and be understood by his pack. Gladwell pulls double duty as author and narrator; while his delivery isn't the most dramatic or commanding, the material is frequently astonishing, and his reading is clear, heartfelt, and makes for genuinely pleasurable listening. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Gladwell's range is impressive and his writing never less than engaging * Financial Times * The pieces form a dazzling record of Gladwell's art * Guardian * He's able to examine what look like the most mundane aspects of our daily lives and to reveal the cleverness - and the strangeness - within * Sunday Telegraph * --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Gladwell kindly explains in the preface of the book of his purpose for offering readers a glimpse of what he has written in the past decade. And with over 400 pages of enlightening essays in the Gladwell tradition, he takes an idea and he runs with it with a slew of intellectual curiosity that moves into various directions in the process that is not locked into one particular topic; most of what he writes about spans from education, politics, social, economic, cultural, and historical frameworks. But he knows exactly where his thoughts will eventually land with his clear goals explained within the beginning of the book that focuses on: people and their efforts and not necessarily larger than life individuals but the average person that happened to make remarkable results in something they have achieved such as Ron Popeil and his Chop-O-Matic, Devoted to theories, ways of organizing experience, and Predictions we make about people. It is these main factors that relate to understanding outcomes that are not necessarily final in terms of interpretation, and many times before Gladwell has proven that fact in his previous books. And when he probes, he uses a part of his early education and skills as a lawyer and blends it with his journalistic inquiries of critical thinking. All of the chapters show the immense curiosity and a-ha or wait a minute, let me think about that moments. The chapter Something Borrowed is one of several examples, he discusses creativity but makes one question, was the idea original? One of the enticing part of the chapter spoke of memorable classic rock songs from bands such as Led Zeppelin versus a Muddy Water’s song that may have been influenced by lyrics and chords, this topic and another topic in the chapter that held close to home for Gladwell pertaining to the Broadway play “Frozen” and the possibility that the story may have been copied from one of his early articles; purely Gladwell where he has taken what appears to be two completely different topics but he brings them congruently parallel in the conclusion.
What the Dog Saw never disappoints for readers that have grown accustomed to Gladwell’s writings. Two points that one may consider before reading the book, the interesting part about the book is that it provides first-time readers a sample of his writing, and second, it clearly shows how far he has come but continues to move forward in his perspectives that is open to new ideas. But one recommendation, if one has not already read his previous books, it is highly encouraged.
For my part, before picking this one up, I thought Blink was my favorite -- a really cool weaving of pop psych and interesting stories -- and that the other two suffered from the full-scale book's requirement of a coherent argument, a requirement which in their case made their contents seem artificially bound. While Outliers, for example, had some interesting stuff, I felt that Gladwell's attempt to stuff all those stories into a big argument seemed artificial and forced. At the end of the day, the book seemed cheapened by his rather pointless thesis that (to simplify) hard work + luck = success.
What the Dog Saw, then -- because it is chock full of fascinating Malcolm Gladwell stories but entirely uninhibited by this annoying need to press these stories into some sort of ill-fitting form -- may be my favorite of the lot. It's just extremely thought-provoking and diverse.
His stories cover a huge range of interesting material -- the difficulties of mammogram reading, the inevitability of disaster, how hair coloring slogans mimicked and shaped changing definitions of 20th-Cent feminism, the slippery definitions of plagiarism -- in a way that lends itself to your drawing your OWN opinions about the interrelations of ideas. The book really makes you think, and I've found much of what I read here applicable to much of what I've seen while and since reading it. He really is a very thoughtful and lucid writer, and he turns this varied world of ideas into a series of comprehensible and well-laid out pieces.
Just a very interesting read in general. Two last notes, for those who haven't seen many other reviews of the book. One, the articles will be hit or miss for some people; I found some things interesting that others here appear to have been bored by, and visa versa. And then two, of course, if you've faithfully read his New Yorker pieces since 1996, then you will be disappointed to find that this book represents nothing other than a reprint of some of his best.
That said, though, I'd highly encourage buying it. It's just been a fascinating read.