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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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  • Andrew
  • Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • 11-28-11

Not as revelatory as you'd think

It takes lots of actual practice to master something. It also takes opportunities that are not in our control. So basically, Gladwell is trying to prove Calvinism (hard work + predestination). Pinpointing the web of circumstances that leads to success is something that we obsess over as a culture and Gladwell provides a very interesting analysis of how this works. But I do not feel like I heard any revelations here that I did not learn from my father when he encouraged me to get internships as an undergraduate.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 10-29-11

A bit fluffy, but enjoyable

***1/2

In this book, Gladwell asks whether highly successful people, the elite athletes or powerful business leaders that society sees as "outliers", are really so different from the rest of us. Is their innate talent and drive so exceptional, or do they benefit from special advantages along the way? It's not the most controversial question -- we all understand the value of being in the right place at the right time -- but Gladwell goes deeper to examine how myriad factors like birthdays, cultural background, parenting style, and classroom time can be powerful determinants of success (or missing out on it). As with Gladwell's other books, Outliers is enjoyable for its case studies, which approach a familiar question with the kind of engaging narratives that a talented teacher might use to get his or her kids thinking about an issue from a fresh angle.

Taken as a whole, though, Outliers isn't a very cohesive work. Gladwell flits from topic to topic without much in-depth analysis or scientific rigor to tie them together. Sometimes his reasoning is overly simplistic (as in the "why Asians tend to be good at math" study) and he makes assumptions while showing little evidence to back them up. I get the impression he'd previously written a few articles on intriguing social phenomena (such as the hockey player birthday study or the way culture played into the Korean Airlines plane crashes of the 1990s), noticed a common theme, and cherry-picked a few more studies that he could massage into a book.

Then again, Gladwell's not an author you read for a deep, critical examination of an issue -- you read him because he challenges you in an entertaining way to think about a broad question. I consider this a worthwhile book if it gets more people to reevaluate the "self-made man" myth that still influences American politics, and to think about the powerful and complex roles that privilege and historical legacy can play in determining a person's success. If our society paid more heed to its structures of opportunity, there'd be many fewer children left behind, and many more who'd achieve their full potential as productive citizens. Even if Gladwell's own answers are a little fluffy, there's no doubt that he's getting us to think seriously about crucial questions.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I enjoy Gladwell's writings

I know there are some who are critical of Gladwell for glossing over facts and oversimplifying conclusions, but I have enough of a brain to be able to draw my own conclusions, some of which differ from Gladwell.

For example, Gladwell stresses the role of hard work and chance in those who find great success, but I think he underemphasizes the role of talent and natural ability. Sure, hockey players in Canada have a better shot at greatness if they're born in certain months, but you still need size, speed, skills, and even competitiveness to succeed. That fact sometimes get lost in Gladwell's analysis.

Having said that, I still very much enjoyed this book, the third I've read of Gladwell's (Blink, Tipping Point). I like his style of writing (and reading)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very thought provoking.

This book caused me to re-evaluate my perceptions of success and how it is achieved. It is a great listen for parents of young children since parents can have a major influence on many of the contributing factors of success that are mentioned in this book. Enjoyable on many levels.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Taking the mystery out of Outliers

I've seen Malcom Gladwell speak twice and read both "Tipping Point" and "Blink," which I really enjoyed but "Outliers" is his crowning work. The book is written in an organized way yet displays profound out the box thinking. Many of us like to think of our heros as truely exceptional people but Mr. Gladwell shows us in his book that many times it's taking what's been given to us, practicing, and being in the right place at the right time. I enjoyed the entire book but what most impressed me was his personal tale about himself, his mother, and grandmother and how being an Outlier has more to do with what went before us then what we actually were able to do ourselves. I liked how the book made me think about how even if I wasn't an Outlier that by me providing opportunities as a teacher or a parent that I may help a future Outlier.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting

This was a pretty interesting book. I don't agree with all of the reasoning, but it's an interesting theory.

The one downside to this book is that if you're looking for motivation, it might work the opposite effect.

This book is about how luck and certain circumstances make you more likely to be successful such as your birthdate, ethnicity, and religion.

If you easily see your circumstances as beyond your control, you may read this book and feel disheartened that you're not lucky or have the right circumstances to be successful.

I believe luck is part of it, but drive and ambition are also important too. You DO have the power to alter your circumstances, even if you've not been given special advantages.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob
  • Erie, PA, United States
  • 08-14-09

Proof Through Anecdote?

I always enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's work whether it be in book form or the short pieces he does for The New Yorker - but I can't help thinking that he's becoming the era's Proof By Anecdote expert. 'Outliers' is interesting but perhaps more formulaic than it ought to be.

I am afraid that at the rate Gladwell is descending into his example = proof funk his next book might be called 'Lincoln and Kennedy - Just Too Many Coincidences to Ignore'.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Some interesting thoughts to ponder

This is a well-written book that brings up some important things to think about. Gladwell's conclusion that you need to be lucky as well smart and hardworking to be hugely successful is probably true. To get really far out on the bell curve you need for everything to go right, or wrong, depending on which side of the curve. Still it is dangerous to draw too many conclusions from extreme outliers, at least when dealing with a standard bell curve. If you are interested in what makes rich people rich read "The Millionaire Next Door", it deals with the more applicable part of the curve for most of us. Drawing conclusions from relatively few data points is always risky but Gladwell shows clearly the a small head start can get you far ahead.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • Dublin, CA, United States
  • 05-12-09

Very good parenting book

This is a very good book in the same way Freaknomics was a very good economics book. It goes beyond the myths of how to become successful. If you have young kids, it is also a very good parenting book, on what you should be aware of to give your kids the best chance to succeed.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Are you and outlier? How did you become one?

The outliers in this book are people who have either succeeded or failed beyond expectation. Besides intelligence, what other factors make people extremely successful? Some of the questions that are posed and answered are:

Why are most professional hockey players born Jan-
Mar?
Why were 9 of the top wealthiest men of ALL time (cleopatra to present) born in the 1830's?

Why are many of the key people in computer technology born between 1953 and 1955? W

hy did some immigrant groups do better than others?

Why do asians do better in math?

These are interesting questions and interesting observations are provided. It is not clear if even the author has an overall opinion of if you can control your own destiny. He swings from chapters where when you were born is the largest factor, to other cases where simply working hard and smarts gets you ahead. Perhaps the answer is you need both to become a Bill Gates or a Rockefeller. However, he makes an excellent case of how external factors often set you up for success.

The other concept that is presented is the idea of working hard enough and long enough at something to become expert at something. Those that were wildly successful were experts at the right time in history.

The audio book is not referenced so if you want to read the studies cited for yourself, you will need to get the book.

If you have read Drunkard's Walk and Supercrunchers, this is an interesting and important addition to the factors that govern success.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Rentaghost
  • 03-09-17

fascinating insight

Excellent listening, well researched but not too heavy. Demystifies success. well narrated by the author too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Darren - UK
  • 04-15-15

Essential reading.

A fascinating and thought-provoking book, with some excellent insights into human nature, and what goes into making great people great.

The narrator and the quality of the recording were very good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs. O. Fatona
  • 11-03-12

Fantastic!

I am really pleased I read this book. My mindset is changing & my vision has no limits.



Thanks to Sam Adeyemi (I hope to meet one day soon) for recommending this book.



A GOOD READ!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • 11-03-09

Great listen

Fascinating book with lovely insights into the development of so-called Outliers. Well read by the author. If the subject matter piques your interest, it is worth the time listening.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexander
  • 02-02-14

round in circle

What did you like best about Outliers? What did you like least?

Never seem to get to the real point of the book in any concise way.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Never seem to get to the real point and title of the book in any concise way.

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

no

If this book were a film would you go see it?

no it would not work.. good documentary thou

Any additional comments?

seem like self centred philosophy for his life rather than a completely thought through work. Some very interesting sections about how chance plays so much of a role in life, and why some people do better in certain fields, but can't real say that as well rounded Englishman I feel any way enlightened by this book. If I lived in a bubble, may be...

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 11-28-17

Big piece missing for me

I enjoyed the subject very much and the case studies were good. At times I felt that it’s kinda obvious that certain advantages were available.
The big missing piece for me was how happy these people were/are. Of course you’ll get good at math if you do math all day long. But you’ll probably be stunted and miserable. What sort of correlation between achievements, advantages, success and happiness? It would have given a fuller picture for me.

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  • ChilliDali
  • 11-25-17

Excellent book

Having heard the whole book I feel that I have a better understanding of myself and my environment. I can totally see why this is a bestseller

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  • Mas
  • 11-05-17

brilliant message and mind changing book.<br />

a great book indexed. delivers a crisp clean message that outliers are a product of shear hard work theirs and their inspirators and a conducive environment

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  • Alvaro Ruiz
  • 11-01-17

Repetitive

It is a little bit repetitive, the concepts is quite simple, that opportunities are presented to those who get successful. However leave a lot of questions opens. Are opportunities created or just founded along the way?

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  • Mr. C. M. J. Hunter
  • 10-31-17

super informative book

really good- if you have kids listen to chapter 9 if nothing else. overall, very good and informative. it's well researched.

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  • J. Stevenson
  • 12-31-16

Excellent. Interestingly, educational, inspiring.

Important for me, especially in relation to education, families and hard work. Thank you Malcolm Gladwell for your enquiring mind and *your* hard work.

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  • Haydn Till
  • 12-20-16

a great thinkers read.

finished far oo quickly. compelling reasoning but could be more detail to create a bit more depth.

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  • Kate
  • 11-21-16

Quality and entertaining!

A genuinely enjoyable read and you come out a little more knowledge and community minded at the end!

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  • ryan
  • 09-13-16

dope

very dope incredobly dope amazingly dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope dope. malcolm gladwell is cool.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ruthra
  • 08-01-16

Excellent!

Very good insight into factors that play a significant part in success, very easy to follow.

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  • Rob
  • 06-22-16

Talk about engaging!

Malcoln Gladwells latest book sets out the premise that "outliers" are the nexus of talent, hard work and opportunity. He takes the reader through story after story of celebrated success which he de-engineers into the circumstances that created that unique moment. Then he scrutinizes the cultural contribution culminating with the example of his own family. This is a remarkable lesson, beautifully scripted and presented by the author, himself. Value in an Audible? This gets top marks for any student of human behaviour.

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  • Jakki
  • 06-18-16

Life altering perspective.

This book will bestow upon you a life altering perspective on success that you can share with your children growing up. So they understand the true meaning of success.

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  • Peter
  • 06-08-16

Must read in the current economic state

with so much technology taking over more and more aspects of our life, this book will make sure you are there to find the opportunities and work hard

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  • Dylan
  • 03-11-16

Illuminating experience

Malcolm takes his time with each story and you almost think, enough I've figured it out but every time he drives his point home a step further and it's an experience of oh now I get it as he extrapolates the impact of that phenomenon. wonderful book

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  • Eunice
  • 03-09-16

Highly recommended!

This is a Great book that is suitable for everyone. If you are a mum, you want to find ways to create opportunities for your kids. If you are businessman, you want to understand how to be an outlier. Love this book!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful