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David and Goliath

Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
Length: 7 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (314 ratings)

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Editorial Reviews

Best-selling author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell has written and narrated a compelling examination of power in his new-release audiobook David and Goliath. Using the classic biblical tale as an example, Gladwell highlights the reasons why it is possible for the small, feeble and unlikely people in the world to take on and quite often win against far bigger, stronger opponents. See the age-old struggle of power broken down to its core and understand far more as to why and how people succeed against all the odds. Available now from Audible.

Publisher's Summary

David and Goliath is the dazzling and provocative new book from Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw.

Why do underdogs succeed so much more than we expect? How do the weak outsmart the strong? In David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a scintillating and surprising journey through the hidden dynamics that shape the balance of power between the small and the mighty. From the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Vietnam, through the tactics of civil rights leaders and the problem of privilege, Gladwell demonstrates how we misunderstand the true meaning of advantage and disadvantage.

When does a traumatic childhood work in someone's favour? How can a disability leave someone better off? And do you really want your child to go to the best school he or she can get into? David and Goliath draws on the stories of remarkable underdogs, history, science, psychology and on Malcolm Gladwell's unparalleled ability to make the connections others miss. It's a brilliant, illuminating book that overturns conventional thinking about power and advantage.

Author, journalist, cultural commentator, and intellectual adventurer, Malcolm Gladwell was born in 1963 in England to a Jamaican mother and an English mathematician father. He grew up in Canada and graduated with a degree in history from the University of Toronto in 1984. From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter for The Washington Post, first as a science writer and then as New York City bureau chief. Since 1996, he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

His curiosity and breadth of interests are shown in New Yorker articles ranging over a wide array of subjects including early childhood development and the flu, not to mention hair dye, shopping and what it takes to be cool. His first book, The Tipping Point, captured the world's attention with its theory that a curiously small change can have unforeseen effects, and the phrase has become part of our language, used by writers, politicians and business people everywhere to describe cultural trends and strange phenomena. His other international best-selling books are Blink, which explores how a snap judgment can be far more effective than a cautious decision, and What the Dog Saw, a collection of his most provocative and entertaining New Yorker pieces.

©2013 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2013 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A global phenomenon... there is, it seems, no subject over which he cannot scatter some magic dust." ( Observer)

What members say

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  • Hellocat
  • Centurion, South Africa
  • 02-02-16

Gladwell loses his way, and I my respect for him

Malcolm Gladwell has been believing his own press for way too long. When he started out with The Tipping Point in 2000, he had a knack for making interesting observations that went against the grain of common knowledge. Each thesis he presented was carefully thought out and argued, and encouraged one to re-evaluate the subject at hand instead of proclaiming definitively that his was the one and only version of the truth.

With the passage of time he has become bolder. Each of his subsequent books have seemed more sure of itself than the last, as his arguments for his "findings" have grown thinner and thinner. Even before the arrival of David & Goliath, he was already fond making sweeping generalizations that would make a politician blush, all the while having little but his own opinions backing up those statements.

With David & Goliath, Gladwell seems to have almost given up not only on presenting properly conceived theses, but has abandoned even trying to formulate coherent conclusions. His anecdotes meander pointlessly for ages before concluding abruptly, not coming to any conclusions and not providing the listener with sufficient information to draw their own.

Worst of all, judgement has crept into his analyses. No longer does he objectively look at issues and how people perceive them, but tinges all his arguments with his own point of view. This is brought home in a bizarre fashion in the chapter on the three strikes law. Not only is this well-trodden ground - everything he talks about has been common knowledge almost since the law's inception - but he seems to have no aim but to rip apart the poor father who instigated the law with only the best of intentions. It's nothing but an exercise in character assassination, and his unbelievable conclusion seems to be only that the father should have "gotten over" his daughter's brutal murder instead of trying to make the world a better, safer place. The merits of the law's logic notwithstanding, it was a breathtakingly cringe-worthy experience hearing Gladwell so heartlessly stomp on this man's grief and how he coped with it. His method of coping was, by the way, nothing but positive and inspirational.

The book as a whole reads more like a drunken man in a bar shouting "now let me tell you something" rather than a well-conceived series of arguments about interesting topics.

Gladwell has become an almost unrecognizable parody of himself, and this will be the last book of his I purchase.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rahul
  • Nasik, India
  • 12-02-13

Brilliant

What did you love best about David and Goliath?

Extremely intriguing and educating.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Very easy language.

Which scene was your favorite?

The bit where he explains the duel of David and Goliath and why David was always the favourite to win,

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The bit about hitting a level below what you would otherwise just squeeze into.

Any additional comments?

Great book in the most mesmerising voice of Gladwell himself.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Inspirational

Love the book, took no effort to finish it. Food for thought. Can certainly recommend it.

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Great Inspiration

Great story narration of a very inspiring Biblical story.
Giants have also a belt in weakness.

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Crips sound for morning trails

After listening to his podcast, I was enticed to go for this audible. Loved the collections of the stories shared in the book.
Great book!! Thank you

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poetically insightful

this audio books grips from start to finish. fantastically written and read by the author.

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It’s a beautiful listen and an even better story

I heard the Ted talk and expected more of the same.
I got more than I expected.
Lessons on parenting, on teaching and on facing challenges all in one deep dive on the non obvious advantages.

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Thank you Malcom

To all the Davids out there, GO! DARE!
I found the stories quite enlightening and while I have a few (maybe one or two) points of divergence, this book is definitely a resource.

There are Goliath in this world, in every sphere of life.... But every single one of them can be defeated. Including sicknesses such as Cancer!

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Wonderful!

Another brilliant, insightful journey courtesy of the phenomenal Malcolm Gladwell.

I highly recommend this book...

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Short.. & trying too hard!

Outliers was a book that quite literally changed my 'outlook' towards life & since then I've read all/most of Gladwell's works.. sadly though, with David & Goliath, the author seems to be trying too hard to fit the story/narrative to a feeble plot.. I will still continue to be an ardent fan of his work and would certainly like to see something great come from Malcolm :)

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  • ShabadooGMan
  • 10-13-13

Swing and a miss

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I wouldn't recommend this. I've been a fan of Gladwell's since Blink. While Outliers was over-long, there was plenty of interesting stuff in there. But David & Goliath smacks of contractual obligation. The upshot is that the underdog needs to think a little differently in order to topple Goliath. Well, thanks, Malcolm.

What was most disappointing about Malcolm Gladwell’s story?

I kept waiting for him to take the stories he was telling and explain how perhaps we could apply it to our own lives. He didn't really do this. It was essentially Jackanory, with Malcolm telling a few stories - about civil rights, about the troubles in Northern Ireland - with little point. As a listener, there was a lot of "And?"

What does Malcolm Gladwell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Gladwell is a very good narrator. As is often the case with authors reading their own work, you can tell he really cares about his work. This certainly elevates it.

Was David and Goliath worth the listening time?

Ultimately, at seven hours, no, David & Goliath wasn't worth the reading time.

Any additional comments?

I'm still a fan of Gladwell and would check out his next work - he's an interesting voice. Let's hope this is just a rare misstep in an otherwise highly interesting and provocative career.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Fat Viking
  • 12-01-13

Rather too simplistic even for Gladwell

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Gladwell's continued cherry picking of selective 'evidence' in order to demonstrate a point without ever really testing any of the hypotheses he puts forward. The point was well made in the opening chapter when talking about the girls basketball team but went on a steady decline thereafter.'

What could Malcolm Gladwell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

See above. I know the simplification of popular psychology is his 'style' however too selective and too simple this time.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Malcolm Gladwell?

The narration was fine and where possible or practical I like to listen to an audio book narrated by the author. Gladwell does a fine job in this regard.

Do you think David and Goliath needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. I think the concept was exhausted in the first chapter.

Any additional comments?

Despite my comments above I enjoyed parts of the text and it passed the time on the walk to the station. That was until the chapter on the troubles in Northern Ireland. This chapter was a biased, poorly researched abomination that presents 'facts' in such a way that anyone reading this chapter who was ignorant of the facts of the troubles would be left with a very different impression of what actually happened during this time.

The following text from another online review makes the point far better than I could, so I have quoted it below."One might imagine, on the basis of Gladwell’s account, that the majority of the casualties of the Troubles were killed by British forces. In fact, around 60 percent of the more than 3,500 people killed between 1969 and 2001 were killed by Republican forces, 30 percent by Ulster loyalists, and 10 percent by British troops. Within this overall figure, British forces and local security services suffered more than 1,100 deaths. If the British were Goliath in this conflict, they suffered a good many wounds in its course.

Gladwell’s account does more than oversimplify. It is a kind of moral cartoon, a rendition of events in which there are no difficulties that cannot be overcome by reasonable men and women of goodwill. He tells us nothing of the lengthy and tortuous path that led to the relative peace that prevails in Northern Ireland today. If only he had been around to have a quiet word with British commanders, Gladwell seems to be suggesting, and share a few academic papers with them, none of the horrors that unfolded need ever have happened."

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin
  • 06-16-18

Very insightful.

Would recommend this book to anyone. Gave very good insights for people with seeming disadvantages.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-24-18

Another great Gladwell book

5 stars. Gladwell at his best. insightful and moving the author takes you on a great journey. 5 stars.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. S. Wade
  • 04-11-18

loved every minute

classic Malcolm Glad we'll full of great stories and cutting insights. highly recommended to all

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-19-18

Some valuable life lessons

Where does David and Goliath rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's up there with the rest of the books I have read and also with other Gladwell books that I have read.

What about Malcolm Gladwell’s performance did you like?

His performance adds huge value to the book. So well told.

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

It made me connect to many ideas I have heard elsewhere and helped me see them more clearly. I now employ ideas when coaching my clients.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Layide
  • 01-01-18

Thoughtful and inspirational

A little of this was repetitive but the overall information was thought provoking and inspiring for those of us who are the ‘Davids’ of this world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin
  • 11-27-13

Unconvincing

What disappointed you about David and Goliath?

The book seemed to lack evidence or explanation of how people had overcome their problems to make a success of their lives. It was very unhelpful.

What was most disappointing about Malcolm Gladwell’s story?

The anti-British tone of the sections about Northern Ireland. A complex history and community is simplified to be nonsensical extent. Patronizing and simplistic.

What three words best describe Malcolm Gladwell’s performance?

Unscientific. Patronizing. Simplistic.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from David and Goliath?

The beginning, middle and the end.

Any additional comments?

Can I have my money back?

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary Mercy
  • 05-03-19

Fantastic listen

Typically lively and evocative Gladwell book. Focused on the need for authority to have legitimacy; the beauty of those who are disagreeable and the strength of those who’ve faced vulnerability. Excellent, uses broad areas of history to explore these themes. Really enjoyable listen

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • timothy mcgraw
  • 01-08-19

Best explanation of dyslexia I've heard

Love the premise of this book - perceived disadvantages can be turned into strengths. It is a book I have quoted and has helped me to look at inclusion differently.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-26-18

Typical Gladwell gold

As with all of Gladwell's books, he manages to take eye-opening, counter-intuitive scientific data, and weave it into a narrative that's so compelling you become totally absorbed in it.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other author who is such a masterful story-teller that their non-fiction books feel like novels that you can get lost in. Every book he writes contains ground breaking insights and wisdom that can totally change the way you see the world, but his writing is so superb that sometimes you don't even realise you're learning.

His narration is also among the very best I've found, and after 2 years using audible I've heard many. I usually prefer books narrated by the author, because nobody understands the tone and inflection the writing is intended to convey better than they do. Having said that, not all authors are great speakers, and some can be... Lacklustre. Malcolm Gladwell is the polar opposite, he's an engaging speaker who captures your attention, and keeps it. I have ADHD and often find myself tuning out and having to skip back repeatedly, but Gladwell's narration is so engaging I can easily pay attention for hours at a time.

David and Goliath is also one of his better books, in my opinion. It may just be that the subject matter is more interesting to me than some others, but I would say "Blink" is the only Gladwell book that's made a bigger difference to how I think. Highly recommend!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • salma
  • 03-01-18

Gladwell does it again!

interesting, entertaining and challenging stories and ideas. I encourage you to listen to this book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-17-17

Malcolm Gladwell knows how to weave amazing facts into stories and this is no exception!

This book puts strengths and weaknesses into perspective, it shows how you can turn an advantage into a disadvantage and a disadvantage into an advantage, a fantastic read!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Strange
  • 05-25-19

Long Winded

Really wanted to enjoy this but found it took a long time to get to the point. Ended up stopping a third of the way through. Lots of stories but wanted actual learnings rather than just a lot of stories

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-09-18

Gladwell never disappoints

I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s work, if you like his other works you will enjoy David and Goliath.

As always Gladwell is the perfect narrator of his works.

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  • SD73
  • 08-02-18

Brilliant and fascinating

I was captivated with the content and ideas in this book
Well worth a listen.

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  • Jamie
  • 07-11-17

Simply brilliant!!

It's oft said that things of value are best expounded by a good story. Malcolm Gladwell is a gifted storyteller who does just that. His style of idea-story-lesson works well for David and Goliath. Is he vague or ambiguous in parts? Yes, but the only person who knows their history/story are they whom live it and feel it. Highly recommend!!!

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  • Xcursion
  • 07-04-17

Interesting Perspective

Overall a good book. Great basis developed through interesting examples, although I thought it did go off on a random tangent at points which felt disconnected from the main point. Civil rights to 3 strike laws was a big jump and whilst I understood this, it wasn't the most natural mix.

Having said that I enjoyed the book and was a fascinating insight into education, work and how people can approach asymmetric situations in an inventive way.

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  • Sharron
  • 06-29-17

Interesting perspective

Interesting book. Interesting perspectives on challenges and great stories to back up his ideas. A must read for those who think life's challenges will stop them reaching greatness.

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  • shelley
  • 01-09-17

Utterly engaging

An excellent book that questions the status quo. Thoughtfully written and effortlessly spoken in clear conversational language. Highly recommended.