Malcolm Gladwell is the best non-fiction writer working write now. He does such a great job of using engaging stories to convey his points that you often forget that he is building towards an overall thesis. This book is no exception . . . while I think that this one may be more controversial than many of his other books, it's just as important.
Gladwell boldly takes on two of the most complex social issues we face today, sexual assault and racial discrimination. He asks an important question, which is that maybe we don't understand strangers as well as we think we do. Maybe, the media makes assumptions to fit their narrative, and the public quickly goes along with it. We assume that we are able to discern other's motives and reasoning, even though the vast majority of the scientific evidence states the opposite.
I live and work about 15 miles away from where the Sandra Bland arrest occurred. I had no idea that the book would focus on this when I pre-ordered it, but was interested to see what he had to say. In my opinion, he gave a very balanced account. He goes beyond the 'bad apple cop' vs. 'victim who didn't act properly' debate and exposes a much bigger issue in our criminal justice system and our world, namely that we don't know as much as we think we do. I'm betting that he will get criticized because of this, but its important to note that by pointing out larger societal problems with how we train and expect officers to behave, it does not diminish personal responsibility. In fact, by writing books like this that expose problems to the system for all, I believe it increases personal responsibility for those who have authority.
My main purpose in writing this review is not not to persuade those who loved Gladwell's previous books (like me) - they will buy it. Nor is it to persuade non-readers to read this, as they likely won't. But if you are a reader who reads a negative review about and decides to dismiss the book without reading it, I think you are making a mistake. Assume the best in Gladwell, just as he advocates in this book, and read with an open mind - you will learn something, and you will enjoy doing it. Be sure you read the endnotes as well, some great stuff there too.
PS - The most shocking chapter to me was the one on the Sandusky case. I had never gone beyond the narrative portrayed by the media and was very surprised to read about how things played out here. Will be picking up at least one book on this case to read based on this chapter.