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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)

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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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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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  • Graeme
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 07-09-16

Gladwell is a one trick pony.

Gladwell's The Tipping Point was an interesting book, but unfortunately ever since then Gladwell seems intent on finding a new way back to the money tree of the New York Bestsellers List by plucking a random talking point from somewhere, anywhere, and making a book out of it.
David vs Goliath starts with an opening premise which literally and seriously takes its cues from a fictional tale in the Bible and then hacks away and away repeating itself and trying to justify the same inane argument over and over again whether applying it to little girl's basketball teams or major corporations.
Its all complete hokum dressed up as sagely "hip and modern" wisdom and its a contender for the silliest book I've ever read.

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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.

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first part is great. later part struggled to close

first part is great . later part - tough to comprehend !! . ... . ...

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Brilliant

Loved listening to this book. Highly insightful. Intertwined and highly factual.. You will learn so much from this book

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great insight

A radical and new look at what can get accomplished if we do not get slotted into routine and cliché thinking that hardship creates the under dogs but can give you a sense that this hardship fuels your way out of this situation and meet tremendous success.

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An enjoyable listen

Malcolm Gladwell takes an interesting premise and turns into a really eye-opening book through his examples and case studies. He makes you put a different lens on things and I always end up getting a good take-home from his books.

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Gladwell not at his best

It seems that the author has tried exceedingly hard to string together a bunch of interesting stories but the outcomes are often not compelling and the theme of the book gets completely lost in the narrative. A marked departure from the clinical accuracy and easily identifiable threads from his previous books. A bit disappointing but not altogether awful.

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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.

12 of 14 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."

5 of 6 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?

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 11-15-13

it held me

Would you consider the audio edition of David and Goliath to be better than the print version?

I like listening to the short and pithy stories

What was one of the most memorable moments of David and Goliath?

about choosing the right university, I have told my students

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 11-02-13

"I Could Listen To Malcolm All Day Long"

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It has so many a-ha type moments that will help you see your own advantages (advantages disadvantages) more clearly as well as helping you see them in others.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The struggle of the cancer researcher Dr.Jay Freireich.

Any additional comments?

This book is ideal for Audio, especially as the author is as good an orator as he is a writer. I enjoyed every moment of this verbal salad.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Emnah Zibgowa
  • 09-12-17

Great book

Gladwell understands and presents the not so obvious. Makes have a fresh take on life.

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  • Sue
  • 08-20-17

Was interesting

I've read all of Gladwells books but didn't enjoy this one as much as the others. Not sure if it was the subject matter or choice if anecdotes that I didn't connect with. However, still worth a read and defo look at Blink, Tipping Point and Outliers that are fantastic!

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  • Ewel
  • 06-12-17

this is quite an insight.

I have found this very interesting read. it has opened up a new line of thought

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  • S. Jewry
  • 04-21-17

Brilliant

Really enjoyed this book. Easy to listen to and engaging and interesting throughout. Highly recommend- especially if you are a parent

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  • Darnell Smith
  • 03-16-17

Underwhelmed

Was good in places but could be more pragmatic the stories and stats are great bout how do I apply this information? Felt like reading research paper


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  • Anonymous User
  • 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.

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  • Rob
  • 09-05-16

masterful storytelling

once again I find myself amazed at the level of engagement Malcolm Gladwell casts about his works. This is a series of stories across USA Europe and starting in the Biblical plains all of which point to his proposition that the greatest strength always includes the greatest weakness. Thoroughly enjoyable, informative and thought provoking.

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  • Rachael
  • 08-07-16

Wonderful for listening

I took to Malcolm after listening to his podcast Revisionist History and I just had to keep consuming!
His style and method are beautiful for anyone who loves to learn and gather ideas... on to the next book!

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  • William
  • 07-20-16

a book that stretchs our preconceptions

loved the way that malcolm challenges our sterotypical assumptions and uncovers glimpses of hope amidst what most would consider chaos and insurmountable difficulty. Inspiring and confronting

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  • Dominic
  • 07-13-16

Started strong but lost its way

I loved the first half of the book. Well worth getting just for that. I felt I got a bit lost in the later parts as I struggled to connect it back to the over all thesis of the book

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  • Dan
  • 07-09-16

Must read for all in positions of power

Loved it!
very thought provoking and informative whilst retaining a sense of intrigue and story telling

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  • Andrew Clark
  • 07-10-15

Transforming and deeply affecting

A truly great and profound set of stories, masterfully read by the author. The best book I have listened to on Audible. It will reset your view of what life has thrown at you and how you perceive your limitations.

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