David and Goliath
Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
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Malcolm Gladwell, the #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative---and dazzling---book yet.
Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.
Or should he have?
In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.
Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms---all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.
In the tradition of Gladwell's previous bestsellers---The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw---David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.
Readable, but analysis and conclusions dubious
As always Gladwell tells entertaining stories, but at least in this book his analysis and the conclusions reached seem to be square pegs pounded into round holes. Everything after David and Goliath goes downhill.
Predictable and axiomatic
Not very insightful. I've only read about three or four of his books and this is the most disappointing thus far. Like many authors with liberal leanings, he's long on sentimentalism and short on logic, solid data or unpleasant truths.
Interesting stories . . .
. . . but superficial analysis.
The D & G story sold me the book, and Gladwell's account of the Birmingham civil rights drive is eye-opening, but his banging-on about "inverted-U" relationships overlooks the fact that they explain nothing, that they're just a quasi-mathematical way to say "too much of a good thing" may not be so good.
What are the mechanisms that produce inverted-U relationships? Where do you see them and where not? The reasons why excessive rewards reduce motivation, and heavy-handed punishments fail to change behavior have been very we'll studied (and are very interesting).