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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Chris
  • bristol, United Kingdom
  • 08-23-10

This book should be called 'selective evidence'

Whilst a lot of the ideas in this book are not Gladwell's alone, he takes responsibility for presenting them as if they were fact. Some parts are fascinating - such as the investigation of pilot errors which lead to crashes - but much of it falls woefully short of sound argument. The main points in the book are either obvious or highly questionable: intelligence alone is no trigger for success; luck is big factor in all great achievements; 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve excellence at anything.

The examples he provides completely ignore the possibility that timing is not just luck, but actually a inherent quality of the thought process that goes into the idea of the business in the first place. Did Bill Gates really become so successful purely because he was: a) in the right place at the right time, and b) put in 10,000 hours of programming in an age when computers were hard to come by? By drawing these conclusions he overlooks the unprovable possibility that Gates may have become successful in another area had he not been born at the right time to start Microsoft.

Were the Beatles successful because of their 10,000 hours of practice in German nightclubs and the like before their 'breakthrough' US number one? Even if you ignore Gladwell's convenient use of their US breakthrough to mark his 10,000 hour cut-off (coming 18 months after their UK success), were they really successful because of the amount of practice they put in? Was it merely musical competence that raised them above their peers? What about inspiration, creative ideas, charisma, chemistry or pure unteachable songwriting genius? And what about the likes of Nick Drake, or Kurt Cobain, or Buddy Holly? They could not have possibly put in the 10,000 hours 'required' practice as prescribed by Gladwell. There must be hundreds or thousands more in the world of music, film, literature, or even business who do not conform to the 10,000 hour rule. Yet they are conveniently overlooked.

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Scott
  • Nasu, Japan
  • 12-13-08

Engaging, but overrated

Outliers has many interesting statistical anecdotes sprinkled throughout, to be sure. My interest was held. But at its core, the book's central theme is simply "successful people are aided in their success by their families, culture, education and other chance factors. They could not have done it alone." This is not exactly a particularly profound revelation. Gladwell repeatedly asserts that most people think Bill Gates-type successes are simply due to that person's raw talent and little else. But is that really the case? Does anybody really think Bill Gates could have achieved what he did had he been born in Botswana, for example? What's more, while crediting these outside factors with making these "outliers" possible, he fails to note that in almost every case, hundreds if not thousands or even more other people had virtually identical birth situations, yet failed to achieve greatness. Gladwell's goal seems to be an attempt to take the shine off of society's great success stories by, in effect, claiming they just got lucky. But I think the formula for producing an outlier is more complex than that. Too often in this book, Gladwell seems to be profoundly stating the obvious.
Gladwell's narration of his own work is generally skillful and an easy listen.


107 of 123 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Captivating (if not an outlier)

Regardless of what you ultimately think of the author's analysis, Gladwell is a masterful storyteller, weaving together interesting anecdotes from such diverse sources as plane crash research to hillbilly feuds to standardized math tests. That Gladwell narrates the audio book himself adds greatly to the listening experience. Critics will complain that his thesis is obvious (that opportunity, cultural inheritence and hard work play key roles in success), or that his examples are selective and ignore in turn outliers that don't illustrate his points -- or, somewhat inconsistently, both. But Gladwell's books are successful because he examines phenomena and topics of importance in an accessible and entertaining way. No one should mistake Malcolm Gladwell for a big thinker like, say, Stephen J. Gould, but Gladwell would be the first one to tell you that he's no outlier. Don't accept everything the author says as truth revealed, but do listen to this book -- it's one of the best non-fiction offerings available through Audible.

85 of 98 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert W
  • JOHNSON CITY, TN, USA
  • 05-09-09

Intriguing but the research is questionable

This book is quite intriguing, but often as I listened I began to wonder about his research methodology. His facts, while compelling seem to be only part of the picture and I began to wonder as to how much picking and choosing of facts was going on to support his points. His determination to support his rather deterministic view is clear throughout the piece.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent book; well adapted for the audio format

Unusual take on a topic that is taken for granted. The author's voice enhances the message-highly recommended audiobook-perhaps my best book of the year!

33 of 40 people found this review helpful

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Very Interesting!

Gladwell sets out to explain how the top people in any field were able to get there. The explanations can be very surprising. I was very engaged throughout the whole book. He talked a lot about education, and having been a public school teacher for the last 27 years, I found it absorbing, hopeful, and found myself wishing that I had known some of these things 27 years ago.

Gladwell narrates his own book, which sometimes turns out well, and sometimes not so much. Although obviously not a professional, he has a pleasing way of reading. I wouldn't be choosing a book on account of him reading it however. Still, it was very "listenable" and I enjoyed it very much.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Pawleys Island, SC, USA
  • 03-08-09

Excellent!

Gladwell is a fine writer and this book, in the same style as Blink, explores the real factors that contribute to the success of those we think are so above and beyond us (Bill Gates, the Beatles, etc.). Gladwell makes it clear that their talent, drive, energy, and intelligence WERE key to their success but that these, alone, would not have done it for them. They needed unusual opportunities. In fact, the opportunities given them that were not given others were as important to their achievements as their personal qualities. This book helps reduce the "superstars" down to human level. If you had been given the opportunities these were, you might have achieved what they did or more!

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • DeFoe
  • London, 1680
  • 01-07-12

Simply a terrible book

The reasoning in this book was very thin. Gladwell takes a few anecdotal examples and builds a tremendously over-simplified theory of success. For example, he pontificates that the Beatles were successful because they had played long hours in a Homburg club, as if that were the only factor to their success. I found the book cloying and I really sorry I wasted my money on it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great audio book

The content was entertaining and fascinating. A lot of "oh wow" moments. What was really good was Malcolm's read. He is an excellent reader--right on point with his inflection and cadence. I thought it had to be a professional reader.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Too many examples, not enough ideas...

Would you try another book from Malcolm Gladwell and/or Malcolm Gladwell?

I am rating this book at 3 stars because there are too many examples and statistics terms used by the author; however, the main ideas are simple and were very well presented on a book summary I read online at no cost. Though I enjoyed listening to the book, I feel reading the book summary would have been enough.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The relation between the facts as presented by the author are certainly interesting parts of the book. The least interesting is where the author gets caught up on statistical data and tries to reinforce a point with too many examples.

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

Not sure.

Do you think Outliers needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I wouldnt buy a follow up book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dawn
  • 05-20-10

Riveting - enjoyed it much more than the paperback

Malcolm Gladwell is a terrific writer; he's also an experienced and effective presenter. So when he's reading his own material it's a compelling package and I was totally hooked.
He's dug up some fascinating statistics to back up his overall hypothesis: when someone is exceptional at something it's not just a case of luck or hard work.
IT millionaires all born in the same 3-year period; high performers who all put in more than 10,000 hours of practice; entrepreneurs whose experience of being immigrants influenced who they knew and what they did - and many more fascinating examples.
I'll definitely be listening to this again.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 12-23-12

I never thought about it that way...

As a teacher I have spent years praising kids for being smart, then, however,they rely on that to wing the exams. now I praise them for the amount of hard work they do to achieve their goals and they do better.

Inspiring book, well read, and it has application outside its covers.

Mark from Enfield

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Judy Corstjens
  • 08-04-12

Just so stories

Mr Gladwell has a nice voice and is a natural storyteller, but unfortunately he cannot think straight for an extended period (such as a book). He contradicts himself: at one point, to succeed you need the 'right', well connected, parents (high IQ elementary kids) at another point the key to success (for New York lawyers in the 1970s) is to be born on the wrong side of the tracks (jewish immigrant). He has extraordinarily low standards of 'proof': having demonstrated that certain successes (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates etc.) got lucky breaks, he then breezily states, 'Now we have shown that circumstances are actually more important than raw talent'. I find this very irritating. The main thesis seems to be 'you need luck as well as talent'. Duh?? Is that a thesis or a statement of the bloody obvious? The three stars is because, despite all this, Outliers is quite listenable. It is so low powered and well read that you never need to hit the repeat button, which is handy if your hands are muddy (as mine usually are when I'm audioing).

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 06-26-17

Very engaging

Its one of those books you can't stop listening to. I do feel however there isn't many ways to apply this to your life.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Walter Rothon
  • 04-07-13

Interesting, engaging and very informative

If you've read Freakonomics, then you'll love this. Malcolm Gladwell delves deep into the reasons and circumstances around what makes some people more successful than others. The people and groups he highlights will surprise you - but more so you'll be amazed at what things had to align for them to reach that point of success. Easy to listen to, simply stated but very engaging it was hard to pause while listening on my commute to work.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Alex King
  • 08-05-17

Absolutely mindblowing!

A truly thought provoking book. I Have to listen to it again! Highly recommended book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-31-17

Brilliant

I enjoyed this book I could not put it down , I have learned some fascinating things

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Derek
  • 07-21-17

Amusing stories of success from a different view

This book is really well read by the author. The viewpoint he provides on how some people have got where they are challenges the idea that we are products of ourselves. He sets out to prove this point with a series of cases, each of which is entertaining to consider, but is by no means an exhaustive list. As such his argument is interesting and worth considering, but not rigorously examined.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • nicholas legge
  • 04-22-17

Full of repetitive facts and stories

I cannot stop talking about this book. It is so interesting it just makes you pass on the knowledge but with vigour.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Hannah
  • 03-10-17

Recipe of Success

What did you like most about Outliers?

This book dishes out the recipe of the coveted secret sauce of the world’s most successful and exceptional. Gladwell contextualizes the roots of their success and the breadth and depth of his examples, and the everyday application, powerfully shows how the seemingly impossible is made possible. I loved learning about the surprising links between birthday’s and sporting heroes, a free machine and Gates’ achievement and the reason why airplanes crash....I couldn’t wait to hear how one fact about a person, environment or time impacted something else.<br/><br/>When these connections were brought into focus, I began to look at the world around me with a new lens; would timing the birth of my child help them succeed? How would where I lived, how I was educated impact my chances of success or dictate decisions I wasn’t even aware I was making? <br/><br/>Far from reducing the admiration for these individuals, understanding that it isn’t just about personal greatness but a combination of factors, makes their success even more remarkable. <br/><br/>I now know, thanks to Gladwell’s Recipe to this Success’ Secret Sauce, that an Outlier is produced but 1 cup of sheer talent, 220g of Opportunity and 7.75oz of Cultural Legacy and stirring determinedly for 10,000 hours <br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Igor
  • 05-11-17

great book highly recommended !!!!

Very insightful and shows new ways to look at factors that underpin success... probably good things to consider by parents when signing up kids in extra curricular activities

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin
  • 04-17-17

A fascinating analysis of success

Another great MG read / listen. Probably my favourite so far and a much more in depth analysis in comparison to his others. You're bound to learn something about why some have succeeded and others have not. Fascinating and engaging and well worth the listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brendan shadwell
  • 02-19-17

Such an entertaining book

I really enjoyed this even though it was short. I loved the aviation chapter and the last chapter at the very with a personal touch was great. I listened to every word and the narration was on point. I'd listen to this again for sure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Melissa
  • 02-09-17

Perspective

I've always been a believer that you make your own luck. With hard work and with practice patience and persistence. This book has made me realise there are so many other factors to opportunities that arise in ones life. I definitely have a new perspective. Great book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kieran.S
  • 11-22-16

Great

I've always struggled to finish books as I get bored easily. I loved it and found it easy to get through as well as being very insightful and interesting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-07-17

Good and refreshing prospectives

I have been reading up on deliberate practice and how Gladwell misappropriated the 10,000 rule. But he writes an engaging story with valuable insights (especially in the area of math). Thankyou Mr Gladwell for the several enjoyable hours spent listening to this audio book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-23-17

1st half was amazing.

The first part of the book deals with the Matthew effect and the effect of being born in certain months and times and that part was amazing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-15-17

Interesting and thoughtful

The book reviews many stories around high level success and abilities. Some i was already familiar with and others were quite unique. Even if you choose not to full-heartedly agree with the conclusion or are critical of some claims, this book is definitely worth your time. Hopefully it will open people's eyes to the wide variety of factors that we never tend to appreciate.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-24-17

fantastic - truly enlightnening

Would you consider the audio edition of Outliers to be better than the print version?

Yes, only because malcolm Gladwell read it

What was one of the most memorable moments of Outliers?

several - but mostly how each example examined was done so thoroughly, which challanged alot of my perceptions

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

not at this stage - but will listen to much more

Any additional comments?

BUY THIS !!

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  • Frankie
  • 02-18-17

Great book

Really gives a perspective on a different light that circumstances does change factors that lead to success. Malcom narrates this perfectly.