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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Like the best social dynamics professor you never had, Malcolm Gladwell deconstructs a wide range of phenomena (from the reduction of crime in New York to the rise of Sesame Street) to deliver a fascinating understanding of how "social epidemics" spread. And while author/narrators are often a mixed blessing, Gladwell is so friendly and well-paced that I was actually disappointed when The Tipping Point was over. — Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

Featuring a new afterword.

Why did crime in New York drop in the mid-90s? Why is teenage smoking out of control? Why are television shows like Sesame Street good at teaching kids how to read?

In The Tipping Point, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in society happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a few fare-beaters and graffiti artists fuel a subway crime wave, or a satisfied customer fill the empty tables of a new restaurant. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.

Gladwell uncovers the personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children's television, direct mail and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious.

The Tipping Point is an intellectual adventure story with an infectious enthusiasm for the power and joy of new ideas. Most of all, it is a road map to change, with a profoundly hopeful message: that one imaginative person applying a well-placed lever can move the world.

©2007 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2007 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Gladwell, a New Yorker staff writer, offers an incisive and piquant theory of social dynamics that is bound to provoke a paradigm shift in our understanding of mass behavioral change." ( Booklist) "Hip and hopeful, The Tipping Point is like the idea it describes: concise, elegant, but packed with social power. A book for anyone who cares about how society works and how we can make it better." (George Stephanopoulos)

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The Tipping Point

The author explains why some things catch on and others don't. I think if you liked the book Freakonomics you will like this. It has the same eclectic almost jumping around feel, but at the same time putting out very interesting information.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 06-16-12

Exciting narrative with great vingettes

The author is an incredibly good story teller. He tells us many great stories from the ride of Paul Revere, the resurgent popularity of Hush Puppies, Sesame Street and to the reduction of violence in New York City. He links them all together with the overriding theme of fundamental change (the tipping point) within society. Each of the vignettes are exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat and support his main narrative. In addition, he provides a survey of the then current state of the art of the relevant science.

The book was originally published in 2002 and his concept of 'connectors' is only enhanced by what has transpired with Facebook and the further development of the internet. The book is still just as relevant today.

After listening, you will quote some of his stories to your friends and will embrace them within yourself as your own version of reality. Any book which makes you see the world in a different way is a good book and this is a good book.

Usually, I don't like it when an author reads his own book. This one is an exception. I wish that all authors who read their own book would first listen to this book and emulate his style since he does such a good job in the reading.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nancy
  • Waterloo, ON, Canada
  • 05-02-12

Interesting case studies

This book contained some very interesting examples of epidemics and provided mainly anecdotal evidence for how the tipping could be reached. The author presents some interesting insights into human behavior. I was left uncertain as to how to apply his ideas. Nonetheless, it is a good read and very interesting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good read and listen ...

This is the first time I've done this, but I purchased both the paperback and unabridged audiobook. The audiobook was for doiong cardio at the gym, and the paperback was for the local coffee shop. Both were great. One thing that stood out about the audiobook was that it was read by the author. I found this really added to the value of the audiobook as Gladwell tells his stories very well.

I enjoyed "The Tipping Point" more than "Blink," if you're trying to decide which to do first, but both were very enjoyable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andras
  • Woluwe St Lambert, Belgium
  • 07-03-07

Interesting but not down-to-the point enough


- Excellent main topic
- Good arguments and insights
- Interesting stories and examples


- Too long and not down-to-the-point
- Could have been cut by 30%
- Examples sometimes stand alone without a clear relevance to the main argument
- The author goes too much into details instead of keeping in mind the main message

An interesting listen, but an abridged version would be a lot better.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

There are better Gladwell Books

If you are fan of Gladwell, this book is more of the same: great stories distilled from studies by random social scientists. If you are looking for a first book of his to listen to, I would recommend 'Outliers' instead--it is more coheisive and an all around more compelling book. One thing about this version of the Tipping Point was the weird musical interludes at the end of each chapter--I have never heard anything quite as tacky in other Audible books. Some producer made a bad call on that one.

29 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This the second book I have read of Mr. Gladwell. His books are typical, typically amazing! He has a way with telling a story, which makes it the most enjoyable experience.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jayson
  • Sparks, NV, USA
  • 09-27-09

An Entertaining Listen

As I listened the time flew by. I think a lot of his conclusions are subjective to opinion, but a great listen non the less. He is a fantastic writer and I would recomend this book to anyone.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 09-30-12

3 ½ stars.

Interesting examples of how new ideas become widespread. Good topics for dinner conversation. Not much science.

I loved Outliers by this author, so I wanted to try another of his books and chose this. It’s not as fascinating or entertaining, but it has interesting ideas. There is not much science. It’s more about suggestions and musings about why things happen. These are anecdotal stories which happen to fit his theories. It’s psychology and sociology about what makes people do things and how a new idea becomes widespread. His examples include Hush Puppies (shoes) becoming popular, syphilis epidemic growing, reduced crime in New York City, suicide spreading, and the influential ride of Paul Revere. He defines three types of people involved in this “influencing process.” He also talks about a few other subjects, for example 150 being the maximum number of people for a community that allows them to get along well with each other. He talks about normal well balanced guys who became cruel and sadistic when they were assigned to be prison guards.

I was particularly interested in how a book by an obscure author took off and became a best seller. I was disappointed that he only talked about it briefly. I wish he would have spent more time on how books become popular. He spoke about one book, “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells. San Francisco has a large number of female book clubs. A few of them read this book and encouraged daughters and others to read it. These book club members started doing social activities with each other that they hadn’t done before which were motivated by events in the book. Gladwell thinks part of the success was due to Wells being an actress. She was entertaining when she performed readings at book stores. But I wonder about that because she wrote an earlier book titled “Little Altars Everywhere” which did not take off the way Ya-Ya did. I assume she did readings for that as well, but Gladwell didn’t talk about why one succeeded and the other did not.

I had another question. The author showed specific things being done in New York City in the 1990s that significantly reduced crime. That was fascinating, but it reminded me of another book “Freakonomics.” The Freakonomics authors state that crime was reduced “across the country” in the 1990s. They suggest a reason being abortion was legalized in the early 1970s and fewer unwanted babies were born in environments which produce more criminals, who would have been at a key criminal age in the 1990s.

As the author spoke about various subjects, he would refer to his examples (Hush Puppies, Paul Revere, etc.) over and over again throughout the book. At times it was repetitive. He could have just stated “for example Hush Puppies,” but he would say several sentences about Hush Puppies each time he referred to it, and those sentences had been said before.

Narrator: The author narrated Malcolm Gladwell this book. His manner and voice were good.
Genre: Psychology & Sociology Nonfiction.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Malcom is the man

Malcom is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. he could make a story about a dog crapping on a road seem like one of the most intriguing stories ever told

1 of 1 people found this review helpful