Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.
©2008 Malcom Gladwell; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
Regardless of what you ultimately think of the author's analysis, Gladwell is a masterful storyteller, weaving together interesting anecdotes from such diverse sources as plane crash research to hillbilly feuds to standardized math tests. That Gladwell narrates the audio book himself adds greatly to the listening experience. Critics will complain that his thesis is obvious (that opportunity, cultural inheritence and hard work play key roles in success), or that his examples are selective and ignore in turn outliers that don't illustrate his points -- or, somewhat inconsistently, both. But Gladwell's books are successful because he examines phenomena and topics of importance in an accessible and entertaining way. No one should mistake Malcolm Gladwell for a big thinker like, say, Stephen J. Gould, but Gladwell would be the first one to tell you that he's no outlier. Don't accept everything the author says as truth revealed, but do listen to this book -- it's one of the best non-fiction offerings available through Audible.
Unusual take on a topic that is taken for granted. The author's voice enhances the message-highly recommended audiobook-perhaps my best book of the year!
Outliers has many interesting statistical anecdotes sprinkled throughout, to be sure. My interest was held. But at its core, the book's central theme is simply "successful people are aided in their success by their families, culture, education and other chance factors. They could not have done it alone." This is not exactly a particularly profound revelation. Gladwell repeatedly asserts that most people think Bill Gates-type successes are simply due to that person's raw talent and little else. But is that really the case? Does anybody really think Bill Gates could have achieved what he did had he been born in Botswana, for example? What's more, while crediting these outside factors with making these "outliers" possible, he fails to note that in almost every case, hundreds if not thousands or even more other people had virtually identical birth situations, yet failed to achieve greatness. Gladwell's goal seems to be an attempt to take the shine off of society's great success stories by, in effect, claiming they just got lucky. But I think the formula for producing an outlier is more complex than that. Too often in this book, Gladwell seems to be profoundly stating the obvious.
Gladwell's narration of his own work is generally skillful and an easy listen.
This book is quite intriguing, but often as I listened I began to wonder about his research methodology. His facts, while compelling seem to be only part of the picture and I began to wonder as to how much picking and choosing of facts was going on to support his points. His determination to support his rather deterministic view is clear throughout the piece.
After many rave reviews, I expected to enjoy the book but I didn't. I thought the point that success is factored upon opportunity and having the support of influential ppl was obvious. And you don't need a scientific research to figure that out or there is a need to proof it. However, I think he forgot that opportunities can be pursued and not brought to you and that's one major factor of successful ppl. In some cases, opportunities is a greater factor while in some cases the personal drive plays a greater role. I still feel it cannot be generalized.
The 10,000 hrs rule is another ridiculous generalization and I am not convinced by his reasoning and neither do I see any meaning in such a finding.
Sorry for the bad review... but this is just what I feel after listening.
In a culture of conformity, it doesn't take a rocket scientist or even a statistician to predict that success is predicated on an individual's environment. This is not a book about outliers. It is a statistical substitution of social determinism for true accomplishment.
Because Gladwell's "Outliers" were born into wealthy families, or at certain times, went to the best schools or whatever, they excelled at the creation of new technologies, wealth, etc. -- was at first reading an interesting and slightly novel idea.
But by the time I was finished I was struck with the thought that maybe President Obama had just read this book before he made his now-infamous claim that "You did not build that."
Yes. He needs to explain why American freedoms created the conditions for American exceptionalism and wealth which is a key factor in the evolution of these successful people.
I suspect that Gladwell's hidden motive for writing this book is that he is likely just another socialist hack who is envious of successful people and by attributing their success primarily to luck, can detract from their accomplishments.
Well thought-out book, written in a flowing and entertaining way, well read by the author... even if you don't 100% agree with everything said, you will find much value here!!
The reasoning in this book was very thin. Gladwell takes a few anecdotal examples and builds a tremendously over-simplified theory of success. For example, he pontificates that the Beatles were successful because they had played long hours in a Homburg club, as if that were the only factor to their success. I found the book cloying and I really sorry I wasted my money on it.
Whilst a lot of the ideas in this book are not Gladwell's alone, he takes responsibility for presenting them as if they were fact. Some parts are fascinating - such as the investigation of pilot errors which lead to crashes - but much of it falls woefully short of sound argument. The main points in the book are either obvious or highly questionable: intelligence alone is no trigger for success; luck is big factor in all great achievements; 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve excellence at anything.
The examples he provides completely ignore the possibility that timing is not just luck, but actually a inherent quality of the thought process that goes into the idea of the business in the first place. Did Bill Gates really become so successful purely because he was: a) in the right place at the right time, and b) put in 10,000 hours of programming in an age when computers were hard to come by? By drawing these conclusions he overlooks the unprovable possibility that Gates may have become successful in another area had he not been born at the right time to start Microsoft.
Were the Beatles successful because of their 10,000 hours of practice in German nightclubs and the like before their 'breakthrough' US number one? Even if you ignore Gladwell's convenient use of their US breakthrough to mark his 10,000 hour cut-off (coming 18 months after their UK success), were they really successful because of the amount of practice they put in? Was it merely musical competence that raised them above their peers? What about inspiration, creative ideas, charisma, chemistry or pure unteachable songwriting genius? And what about the likes of Nick Drake, or Kurt Cobain, or Buddy Holly? They could not have possibly put in the 10,000 hours 'required' practice as prescribed by Gladwell. There must be hundreds or thousands more in the world of music, film, literature, or even business who do not conform to the 10,000 hour rule. Yet they are conveniently overlooked.
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