Audie Award Winner, Non-Fiction, 2014
Malcolm Gladwell, the number-one best-selling 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 best sellers, David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think about the world around us.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2013 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2013 Hachette Audio
Traveler. Artist. Dreamer.
I find myself bringing this up at work, at a coffee shop with friends, getting a massage, & nearly any leisurely conversation I have. The contents of this book simply rolls off my tongue and I can't stop myself - yeah, Tipping Point style. Breaking unspoken rules? How devilishly delicious! This book leaves you questioning everything you "know" about rules, advantages, & disadvantages. I absolutely love it!
Words spoken in season is like a fresh rain.
Yes. This book is awesome. There were many observations and examples that I found extraordinary in the way we think and view Giants. The world thinks in the direction that was outlined so vividly and I embraced with much appreciation what I learned. Thank you Malcolm Gladwell… :)
The education portion.
Yes, I was quite surprised…didn't think it would pull off, but I was really impressed.
Where we are as a people.
If only the world would read this book with a good heart and learn from it to bring change in ourselves and in our world.
I was smiling a lot. It’s stimulating. These things are fun to think about. Not everything he says is irrefutable fact. Some of his information is anecdotal. But he raises good questions. I think what he says is true, even though opposite or different views may be true. Some topics were a little slow, but I was frequently delighted and fascinated.
MY FAVORITE TOPICS:
The story of David and Goliath
Less talented basketball players can win using full court press.
The best class size for one teacher was 29. Too small, 9 was bad. The reason is students had more peers. There was more interaction, dialogue, and energy among the students. A class size of 36 was too large to be good.
Two brilliant and talented students got into top colleges: a science major at Brown and a math major at Harvard. After two years they were so disheartened and disappointed that they switched to less rigorous majors. The reason is they were surrounded by so many bright minds, they felt average or below average in those fields. If they had gone to second tier schools, they would have been at the top of their classes and probably not changed majors.
Dr. Jay Freireich lacked empathy for his patients - children with leukemia. Therefore, he was willing to experiment with painful and dangerous procedures for these children - things other doctors were unwilling to do. Under the care of empathetic doctors, children died from leukemia. But they were cured by Dr. Freireich’s procedures of repeated cocktails of painful drugs and large needles taking frequent and painful bone marrow samples. It is suggested that his lack of empathy was caused by lack of parental nurturing and love when he was a child.
Dyslexics developed abilities that brought them great success.
Too much money creates parenting problems.
Different types of fear and lack of fear during the WWII bombings in London.
Civil rights movement in Birmingham Alabama
The British and Protestants vs the Catholics in Ireland
California’s three strikes and you’re out - jailing criminals
The Huguenots in France protecting Jews during WWII
I was pleased the author provided a PDF file that audiobook buyers could download. It has the picture of the dog attacking a black man in Alabama which he talked about. It also has charts and a few references.
The author narrated this book. His manner and voice were excellent - soft, easy to listen to, and enthusiastic. I’d love to hear him narrate some of my fiction books.
Genre: Psychology & Sociology Nonfiction
I listened to this audiobook a few months ago right after it came out. I was disappointed, but thought perhaps I had set my expectations too high so I waited until now to rate it.
In my opinion, this is a real drop-off from Gladwell's previous books. A few of his anecdotes like the one relating to schooling, seemed a real stretch on the book's theme of David v. Goliath. I still love his work, his methodology and his contribution to American letters. No one can sustain the type of quality found in his previous books. This appears to be a blip on the radar, although from the reviews many people think this is just as good. I'm glad they do; it just happens that I don't.
Not especially. Gladwell (in this book anyway) suffers from being a poor statistician in most of his scenarios. There are, in almost all the cases he presents, very plausible mitigating factors, which he neglects. He falls into the common statistical trap of being pretty happy with what you found through limited research. He doesn't show a particularly deep knowledge of any of the subjects he presents, save perhaps the actual biblical David and Goliath.
Too easy, and often incomplete.
no. not relevant
I find myself wanting to agree with his premises, but his arguments are too shallow to be truly persuasive. Instead, if seems like each individual case he discusses could turn into a real, detailed study that provides real insight, proving or disproving Gladwell's conjecture. They are certainly far from proven in this work.
In a lot of ways David and Goliath is a lot like its title, its a battle of two very different pieces. The first half of David of Goliath is excellent. The stories are engaging and the theme stays close to Gladwell's main thesis. The second half of David and Goliath doesn't seem to follow the same tightly constructed argument. Gladwell seems to go off on tangents and only at the end of his examples does he try and make an parallels to the underdog.
I really did enjoy David and Goliath but will have been far more impressed had the book remained as good as its first handful of chapters. The idea that David might not have been an underdog was fascinating and I would have liked to have seen that explored more then the diversions that happen later in the book. All things being equal I thought David and Goliath was an extremely entertaining read but not one I would want to go back to.
Malcolm Gladwell typically provides highly interesting insights and food for thought challenging popular perceptions. The best example in this book is the title story of David and Goliath. He shows quite persuasively that David was no innocent shepherd boy, but a highly skilled variant of a well-known military fighter of his time: the “slinger” who attacked his opponent from a distance with well-directed and lethal stones from a slingshot. He caught Goliath by surprise, but his weapon and role were not that great a surprise.
That said, Mr. Gladwell does make a couple of claims in this book that in my mind were not well-founded. The first related to the supposed strategic mistakes made by the British Army in Northern Ireland in the early 1970’s in trying to bring peace to that troubled region. The second is his claim that the California “Three Strikes” law eventually proved harmful to the state. I think the Northern Ireland conclusion is overdrawn. Yes, the British made many mistakes in that peacekeeping role. However, I do not believe they were the strategic dunderheads that Mr. Gladwell suggests they were. They had a very difficult problem, with IRA terrorists on one side and extremist Ulster “orangemen” on the other. In the case of the California “Three Strikes” law, I live in California. I voted for Three Strikes and believe it has played an important role in bringing down California crime rates. Has it been too severe in particular cases? Yes. Does it have room for improvement? Also yes. But has it been a mistake overall? I think not and respectfully disagree with Mr. Gladwell on his conclusion.
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
I understand that people who write books for a living have to keep generating ideas for new material. This must be very taxing, and I guess this is why there exists the concept of ‘writer’s block’. When Malcolm Gladwell sat down and starting scratching out this latest offering I think he was probably struggling a bit and scraping towards the bottom of the barrel.
He’s written some really good works that change the way his readers think about the world. In ‘the Tipping Point’ we learnt what factors combine to make something ‘go viral’, a la Gangnam Style. In ‘Blink’ we saw how adept humans are at making intuitive judgements in milliseconds with limited information, and in Outliers we realised that successful people are often winners because of arbitrary lucky factors rather than pure talent. In David and Goliath I’m not too sure what we learn, and if there is a core message in there, it’s a bit tenuous and foggy.
The basic idea of the book is that underdogs often prevail against the odds, and that this is the result of a number of factors such as: they break the rules; they aren’t afraid to do unpopular things; they are the products of difficult childhoods with ‘desirable difficulties’ such as dyslexia; their enemies underestimate them and misunderstand the use of power. These messages are intertwined with some quack pseudo-psychological theories, such as the notion that when the British Army were in Northern Ireland they didn’t realise they were on the ‘downside of the inverted u’.
There is some good stuff in this book. There are some insights that I could imagine being relevant to me in some future situation in my life, and the book was enjoyable because of the fascinating human interest stories that Gladwell tells so well, but there are too many generalisations and oversimplifications of complex issues which the author-narrator manipulates to fit his theory, whatever that may be.
The book got off to a very strong start, which continued until the final couple of hours. At that point, the discussion about Northern Ireland and medical research destroyed the arc of the story.
Select stories from the Old Testament/Torah have been written and re-written for children for decades. The biblical story of David and Goliath is as well-known as Jonah and the fish. The application of the underdog overcoming all odds to beat the giant has been repeated and applied to one person suing Proctor & Gamble and winning, a 60 year old woman swimming from Cuba to Florida, and to a small cadre of soldiers winning independence from a powerful mother country. Stories such as these surround us, and yet, we are always amazed and we always want to read the story again.
The physiological/physical examination of Goliath’s acromegaly and pituitary macroadenoma has been noted in previous publications. It is the case of innocent childhood bravado up against a physically impaired adult coming together in an unexpected way, a fresh approach, that results in a new conclusion. The same surprise at results is recorded by Gladwell as he examines the easily believed study that shows smaller class size results in better performing students to be false and more money doesn’t result in more happiness. Let’s just fire the bad teachers and accept that money can’t really buy happiness.
I have read all of Malcom Gladwell’s books. This one is the dullest of all. Nothing new has been revealed. No reasons are given to be excited at saying you have read this book. He has researched this extensively, well, maybe too much, to arrive at conclusions that are not profound. His dull, nearly monotone voice is empty of enthusiasm and is “music” to sleep by. If you have read Blink! The Outliers, or The Tipping Point, you must read this one to hear what I mean.
I love the way Gladwell tells stories and induces theories from the stories. I don't always agree with his theories - they sound convincing but they're just theories - but I love the way he communicates and makes me think.
I really good listen.
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