This is Gladwell's worst book, in my opinion. Of course, Gladwell is usually great, so it's like talking about Pixar's worst film, or Apple's least popular product. It's got some interesting parts, but there are lots of boring parts.
If you haven't read Gladwell's "Outliers" or "Blink", leave here now and get those. Those are great (esp. Outliers!). After you've read all Gladwell's other books, come back to this one last when you need another Gladwell fix (unless he's written something else by then!)
Right up front I will admit: I did not finish this book. I got about 2/3 through and stopped.
Daniel Dennett may be one of the "four horsemen" of the new atheism, but if so, he's the most boring of the four. He obviously idolizes Richard Dawkins. Everything Dawkins ever said is profound in the extreme. There's no need to read "The Blind Watchmaker" or "The Selfish Gene" if you read this, because Dennett quotes virtually every sentence in those books, and wastes no opportunity to tell us how profound and original each one is.
On the other hand, he absolutely despises Steven Jay Gould. He spends a majority of the latter half of the book outlining everything that's wrong with everything Gould ever said or did.
The first half of the book did have some interesting stuff. There was a chapter about John Conway's Life simulation that was very interesting. Some interesting stuff about memes (that I'd already read in Dawkins, of course, but still interesting). But then he decided to dedicate the rest of the book (or a very large chunk of it) to lambasting S. J. Gould, and to a lesser extent Noam Chomsky. Also, everyone who ever said a word in support of Gould is an idiot. I fast-forwarded to close to the end and he was still at it. At that point I called it quits.
I'm giving the book three stars mainly because I did enjoy the first half.
I've just finished this excellent book this morning, and I'm still a bit lost in its spell. What a story! I cried more than once (and for more than one reason), laughed several times, actually felt sick a few times, and on more than one occasion felt myself completely taken up in it, which is the highest praise I can give a book.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, compelling, and deeply moving story.
The only complaint I have is that the narrator would often sort of trail off at the end of a sentence. In every other respect, he was a fine narrator. As I understand it, he's an Australian himself, so that helps lend the story some authenticity.
A lot of reviewers here have really been hard on the narrator, some going so far as to say he ruined the book for them. I did not feel it was quite that bad. I simply turned the volume up a bit higher than normal, so that when he trailed off, he was still easily audible. It did make him a bit loud at times, but I was ok with that.
The book and story are so utterly compelling, it's worth putting up with the narrator's imperfections.
I'm sorry, this is not a book about "Dark Matter" or "Dark Energy", or even "The 4% Universe". The only part of the title that gives a hint as to what this book is about is the "Race to Discover..." part, but even that is making it sound more interesting than it is.
What this really is, is a dull account of how a lot of scientists haggled and fought over who'd get the credit for various discoveries. It's exceedingly dull. If you're interested in the discoveries themselves, and in learning interested and wonderful facts about our universe, read something by Brian Greene or Stephen Hawking or Leonard Mlodinow. If you haven't yet read everything Carl Sagan wrote, then read one of those. Only read this if you want to know how prideful, self-important scientists fought each other over who got the credit.
I absolutely loved this book. Not since listening to the audiobook of King's "The Stand" have I been so completely happy with a Stephen King novel.
I usually find King's endings to be his downfall, but this is one of the rare exceptions. This book is great from beginning to end.
The title pretty much says it all for me. I kept reading to the end, hoping for something interesting to come up, but it never happened. None of the topics covered in this book is anything new. If you've been keeping up with the latest science at all, you will not hear anything here you haven't heard many times.
Listening to the first half of this excellent audiobook, I was reminded again and again why Mark Twain is one of the best American writers ever. He can do more with a single paragraph than JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and all the other pop-fad-of-the-day writers can do with 7 or 8 novels combined.
The only problem with this particular Twain book is it's just too danged long! The length is what prevented me from giving it 5 stars. It's just too long.
I enjoyed this book a lot. For the most part it's very well written, and well narrated. There are a few parts in the middle where it seemed to drag a bit and feel like a dry history lesson, but it always picked up in time to keep me hanging on. I really felt like it picked up toward the end.
At times this book made me feel like I understood the times it spoke of, and I really enjoyed learning about the character of Quanah Parker. Here's an important historical figure that was completely left out of my education.
This is not a book that paints the United States as the evil empire and the Native Americans as poor, mistreated, peaceniks. Far, far, from it. This is a book that shows the good and bad side of both sides in the conflict. I recommend it.
I was so excited for this book when I saw it was coming out months ago. Downloaded it the day it was available. "Outliers" and "Blink" are great, paradigm-shifting books. "The Tipping Point" is good, and "What the Dog Saw" is in my opinion his worst book. This one falls somewhere between "What the Dog Saw" and "The Tipping Point", in my opinion. It's got a couple of mildly enlightening sections, but all in all is very repetitive and starts to get a bit dull.
Essentially, in "David and Goliath", Malcolm Gladwell makes one point, over and over and over. The properties that make the giant seem powerful might actually be its weaknesses, and the things that made David seem like a fool and his actions suicidal to others might have been his greatest strengths. He makes this point well in the first chapter, then goes on and on, making the same point over and over. Some of the stories he tells are interesting, others are kind of boring and in some cases it really seems like he's stretching to make them apply to his topic at all.
This book is absolutely GREAT, but it's very, very, VERY long.
By all means, you should read this book. The material presented here is fascinating and will revolutionize the way you look at history, and at current events.
However, you may have trouble (as I did) finishing it. It's very long. Did I mention that it's long? It's very, very long.
After a while you might start thinking "Ok, Mr. Pinker, I get it! You have transformed the way I think about history, and about current events as well! Your research is vast and deep and very much appreciated. Can I move on to the next book now?"
Richard Dawkins apparently thinks this is the best sci-fi novel ever written. I think he mainly says this because it accurately describes the way many scientists looking at the same problem collaborate and influence one another's work.
The story itself is very dated, almost to the point of being unreadable.
If you want a really terrific story about a malevolent cloud that threatens Earth (and the rest of the galaxy), read Jack McDevitt's "Omega" (or better yet, start with "The Engines of God" which is the first in that series -- the "Omega clouds" play a part and are mentioned several times throughout the series).
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.