Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
The Short Take:
This highly readable nonfiction book is a delight in every way. The premise — that misfits and underdogs can, and do, triumph — is exciting and inspiring. Gladwell’s storytelling is completely engaging. Plus, you’ll have interesting factoids and tales to share at cocktail parties and dinners for weeks to come. What more could you possibly want?
Simply put, Gladwell writes a great book. He brings together a wide range of real-life examples to make his points. In this case, he demonstrates that obstacles and misfortune can hold the seeds of success. However, thinking you know how things should be done can lead to unfortunate outcomes.
This is no weighty academic tome. It’s the work of a gifted journalist who has exceptional skill. If you’re looking for more scientific rigor, delve into the sources included in his extensive notes. However, if you are looking for inspiration — for stories of people who bucked the establishment and/or overcame odds clearly stacked against them, this one is for you.
It might even change the way you think about your own life.
A Little Plot:
Basically Gladwell has gathered stories and studies that show (among many other things) classrooms can be too small, colleges can be too good, too much money can be as bad as not enough, power is worth little without legitimacy, and trickery can triumph.
It all builds around the Biblical tale of David and Goliath, which Gladwell points out was really an unfair fight — for Goliath. Perceived underdogs have much more to do with observers’ expectations than with the reality of their situations.
For more about Gladwell and his work, click here. And, read this book. It’s small, breezy, and so very enlightening.