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What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 20, 2009
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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.
If you are a Malcolm Gladwell fan, this book will not disappoint you. Solid, fast-reading essays that tackle sometimes complex topics and usually come up with a counter-intuitive conclusion. After a while, his essay structure becomes recognizable, and you realize when he is leading you down the primrose path, only to show you how conventional thinking is often wrong. His writing style is nearly perfect for these medium-length essays about current issues.
My only quibble is that some of these essays feel a bit dated because of the subject matter, but that is the nature of topical writing. His own political leanings influence his writing, but why shouldn't it be so?
An enjoyable, entertaining, educational set of essays.