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Outliers: The Story of Success | [Malcolm Gladwell]

Outliers: The Story of Success

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
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Publisher's Summary

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

©2008 Malcom Gladwell; (P)2008 Hachette Audio

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  •  
    KHarrang 11-21-08
    KHarrang 11-21-08
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    "Captivating (if not an outlier)"

    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.

    66 of 71 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S Prabhu Boston, USA 12-27-08
    S Prabhu Boston, USA 12-27-08 Listener Since 2008

    neurorad

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    "Excellent book; well adapted for the audio format"

    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!

    29 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Nasu, Japan 12-13-08
    Scott Nasu, Japan 12-13-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Engaging, but overrated"

    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.


    73 of 82 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert W JOHNSON CITY, TN, USA 05-09-09
    Robert W JOHNSON CITY, TN, USA 05-09-09 Member Since 2006
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    "Intriguing but the research is questionable"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Koh Bock Huat 12-29-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Not Convince By His Reasoning"

    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.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian 03-19-13
    Brian 03-19-13 Member Since 2015

    Asosa

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    "Statistical Stupidity"

    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.

    Completely vacuous.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Winfield BRYAN, TX, United States 09-03-12
    Winfield BRYAN, TX, United States 09-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "You Did Not Make That"
    What did you like best about Outliers? What did you like least?

    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.


    Has Outliers turned you off from other books in this genre?

    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."


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Gladwell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Do you think Outliers needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dylan Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada 11-30-08
    Dylan Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada 11-30-08
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    "Intriguing concepts"

    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!!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DeFoe London, 1680 01-07-12
    DeFoe London, 1680 01-07-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Simply a terrible book"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris bristol, United Kingdom 08-23-10
    Chris bristol, United Kingdom 08-23-10
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    "This book should be called 'selective evidence'"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Charlott
    Halmstad, Sweden
    1/8/15
    Overall
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    "Outstanding"
    Where does Outliers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I rank it among the top 15 of the books that I've read the past 3 years.


    What other book might you compare Outliers to, and why?

    Most of the books that I listen to/ read have a holistic approach. And nothing is really just black and white. This goes for this book too.


    What about Malcolm Gladwell’s performance did you like?

    He has a fantastic narrating voice. It is very easy to listen to. It sort of drags you in to all the fantastic stories.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Nothing is what it seems to be!


    Any additional comments?

    Read, reflect and appreciate!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Aaseem
    Ickenham, United Kingdom
    6/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Success through hard work"
    Where does Outliers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The book is worth listening to even though its conclusions are obvious to those who understand (or try to understand) human psychology. But the book has plenty of surprises to keep you entertained. I learnt alot about myself as well as others around me.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Story telling and examples.


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Gladwell’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    This is much better than Tipping point


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    DUNDEE, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Great narration and interesting subjsect"

    I have listened to or read a number of books which cover similar topics and found this to be an excellent listen. This was the first time I listened to anything from Malcolm Gladwell and I found it a very easy listen and an interesting subject. I particularly like audio books which are narrated by the author of the books as they are able to emphasis the parts which they intended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hidde
    Amstelveen, Netherlands
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Very interesting read"

    Some Non-Fiction books which include research can be somewhat boring, I need to make sure I don't loose attention with these books, but not with this one (at least not until the last chapter). There's a lot of storytelling in this book which gives new insights into what makes humans successful. I would recommend this book to anyone who's interested in becoming successful... and who isnt?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Athula
    Abingdon, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "An outlier in itself"

    This is a fascinating book and in some ways an outlier in itself. I was hooked and could not turn off from listening to it (at least the Part-I of it). I think Part-II is a little bit more of the fillers and he has run out of things to say and continue with the rant (althouh occasionally you will find some useful things). But the first part is gold and I was so impressed and bought the kindle edition and gave it to my teenage son (hopefully who might have realized it is much better to be an outlier than the norm). The audio book is really nice, read at a phase thinking about the listner. Highly recommend to anybody who is interested in becoming "unusual" (given that norm today -- especially in 2013, is to become a failure -- look at the Euroland and Eurpoe in general), and would like to know what it might have taken some outliers to be successful (the forgotten norm in the not too distant past).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • IYER
    Singapore, Singapore
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "Spellbinding"

    A tour de force from Malcolm Gladwell – again! Gladwell throws up multiple examples in an attempt to answer a generic question – what drives success. While other have attempted to answer this question from the standpoint of psychology, history, and even climate, Gladwell takes the micro approach in trying to see what determines peculiar cases of success, and whether the received knowledge and consensus views on the ingredients of success holds true. The results are a surprise, and eye opening!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Reading, United Kingdom
    11/1/12
    Overall
    "Read it"

    Everyone should read this book. Particularly if you have kids. But even if you don't. And it will give you a new appreciation of the Beatles musical skills.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Birgitte
    Taastrup, Denmark
    9/6/12
    Overall
    "Very entertaining and eye opening"

    I love the easy way of this author. He reads superbly, is funny, smart and very scientific, actually.

    One little thing, though: the book could do with a little cutting here and there, sometimes a bit too dragged out. But - great read nevertheless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wybrand
    JohannesburgSouth Africa
    7/27/09
    Overall
    "Interesting topics wrapped in great stories"

    Malcolm Gladwell not only brings across the facts, but keeps your thoughts captured by wrapping the facts up in great stories that makes it easy to relate to the topics! Great book!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Marina
    Abanto y Zierbana, Spain
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Excellent listening"

    A remarkable book. Really interesting and gripping. I mostly appreciated the final interview with Gladwell. Understanding how it works the success should contribute to develop further opportunities to our entire society. Clear to follow even for non-native English speakers.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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