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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, October 2013 - Get ready to have your view of the world turned upside down. Malcolm Gladwell - best-selling author of Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers - returns to present new ways of looking at why being among the advantaged is not always advantageous. David & Goliath explores the \"art of battling giants\" through the personal accounts of underdogs and misfits whose wild success stories are often falsely considered flukes. This is not a sentimental celebration of good things happening to good people. In true Gladwellian fashion, the real reasons behind so many pull-from-behind wins are completely unexpected. And if you've ever heard any of the author's many speaking engagements you know to expect a lively listening experience with Gladwell narrating the book himself. —Tricia, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Winner, Non-Fiction, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell, the number-one best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative - and dazzling - book yet.

Three thousand years ago, on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms - all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

In the tradition of Gladwell's previous best sellers, David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think about the world around us.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2013 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2013 Hachette Audio

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  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Already Started it for my Second Time

As per usual, Gladwell delivers fascinating information and an excellent performance. He shows that no matter your industry, we should all be story tellers. Tell a story to make a point and it's a point that will be remembered.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ANDRÉ
  • ORLANDO, FL, United States
  • 10-05-13

Good for the underdogs

I like Malcolm Gladwell's books and read them all. I was very anxious about David and Goliath, which I thought would be better than Outliers, but that was not the case. The script is just like the others, full of stories that try to emphasize the author's point of view. In the audible version, Malcolm's soft voice is as a lullaby and combines well with the text. I would give five stars as an overall, but when he returns with the same Civil Rights Movement as he did in Tipping Point, he lost it. But don't get me wrong, David and Goliath it is a good book, especially for the underdogs and misfits.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Vicente
  • Sacramento, CA, United States
  • 10-03-13

Great as always.

What did you love best about David and Goliath?

His performance was great. Malcolm Gladwell keeps the reader wanting more. The story was great and hope to read more from him.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 11-08-13

too may distractions

The book got off to a very strong start, which continued until the final couple of hours. At that point, the discussion about Northern Ireland and medical research destroyed the arc of the story.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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The Gladwellian Prophet writes again

Let me begin by stating that I am a fan of Gladwell's and his three previous works I've both read and listened to repeatedly. This work further heightens my appreciation of his work. Once again Gladwell turns conventional wisdom on it's head. Why it's better for many students to not go to a "top" school. David actually had the advantage over Goliath. The deeper reasons of the strife that tore apart Northern Ireland. Gladwell gives a unique perspective that even those who don't agree with his perspective are forced to review the questions that he raises. As always five stars for a Gladwell book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • Würzburg, Germany
  • 01-22-14

Shallow analysis, limited research

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not especially. Gladwell (in this book anyway) suffers from being a poor statistician in most of his scenarios. There are, in almost all the cases he presents, very plausible mitigating factors, which he neglects. He falls into the common statistical trap of being pretty happy with what you found through limited research. He doesn't show a particularly deep knowledge of any of the subjects he presents, save perhaps the actual biblical David and Goliath.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

Too easy, and often incomplete.

Which character – as performed by Malcolm Gladwell – was your favorite?

not relevant

Could you see David and Goliath being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

no. not relevant

Any additional comments?

I find myself wanting to agree with his premises, but his arguments are too shallow to be truly persuasive. Instead, if seems like each individual case he discusses could turn into a real, detailed study that provides real insight, proving or disproving Gladwell's conjecture. They are certainly far from proven in this work.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Not Quite Up to His Previous Standard

Malcolm Gladwell typically provides highly interesting insights and food for thought challenging popular perceptions. The best example in this book is the title story of David and Goliath. He shows quite persuasively that David was no innocent shepherd boy, but a highly skilled variant of a well-known military fighter of his time: the “slinger” who attacked his opponent from a distance with well-directed and lethal stones from a slingshot. He caught Goliath by surprise, but his weapon and role were not that great a surprise.

That said, Mr. Gladwell does make a couple of claims in this book that in my mind were not well-founded. The first related to the supposed strategic mistakes made by the British Army in Northern Ireland in the early 1970’s in trying to bring peace to that troubled region. The second is his claim that the California “Three Strikes” law eventually proved harmful to the state. I think the Northern Ireland conclusion is overdrawn. Yes, the British made many mistakes in that peacekeeping role. However, I do not believe they were the strategic dunderheads that Mr. Gladwell suggests they were. They had a very difficult problem, with IRA terrorists on one side and extremist Ulster “orangemen” on the other. In the case of the California “Three Strikes” law, I live in California. I voted for Three Strikes and believe it has played an important role in bringing down California crime rates. Has it been too severe in particular cases? Yes. Does it have room for improvement? Also yes. But has it been a mistake overall? I think not and respectfully disagree with Mr. Gladwell on his conclusion.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fine Wine: New Bottle

If you could sum up David and Goliath in three words, what would they be?

Entertainment Weekly (EW)gave Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" (DG) an abominable review. EW reported that Gladwell had dissolved from a data based story teller to a manipulator of anecdotal tales used to support his main thesis. As a result, I was disinclined to purchase DG. However, I was very pleased by his "Outliers" and "Tipping Point" so I took the chance.
Thank goodness I did not allow those muttonheads at EW to influence my book buying behavior. DG is an excellent book that challenges some of the most commonly held assumptions in the US and turns them upside down. Gladwell uses data and personal stories to analyze the social significance of affirmative action, three strikes laws, and entering an ivy league college. Gladwell's gift is summarizing research studies into a common sense digestible units that any reader can readily absorb. He further drives home point by selecting compelling real life stories that best exemplify these research studies. Gladwell keeps his readers entertained by avoiding the technical jargon associated with peer reviewed data.
The point of DG is that we all possess personal strengths that can help us achieve goals in the face of impending failure. David does not defeat Goliath due to luck, instead David fought an unconventional battle by changing the rules to his benefit. DG will expose the reader a different perspective on approaching tasks or problems that seem beyond our skill set. Our perceived weaknesses can be our greatest strengths.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Incredible schema shift

Advantage comes from disadvantage and misfortune. This book changes the way we think about the world. Fantastic piece by Malcolm Gladwell.

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Gladwell is a master story teller!

I have enjoyed no writing and narration more than Gladwell’s. Seriously, he is one heck of an author and narrator. His element of writing has anecdotes, facts, elements of surprise and contradictions which keeps one engaged through the story. This one also I really enjoyed and finished in no time.