Thursday, June 25, 2009

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell ------ 4.5 STARS

Before beginning my review of Outliers, I must admit that I have a proclivity for books of this type. Some of my other favorites includes Freakonomics and Gladwell's others books, The Tipping Point and Blink. If you have not read books of this ilk, they basically take normal, everyday things or ideas, look at a whole bunch of data behind them and then explain the causes and reasons in a very interesting way.

Outliers, like the other books mentioned above, is another great book that delves into what makes people successful. Before I go on, I have realized that in my more recent posts I have begun to summarize books and actually give away too much of the plot.... This is not good. I am a blogger and reviewer of books not a poor alternative to Sparknotes. With that being said, let me whet your appetite about this story.

Gladwell again does an incredible job taking the question of how people become outliers, (i.e. HUGE successes) which one might think would include a multitude of varied explanations, and boils it down to a couple of key arguments. Some of the questions he evaluates and answers include:
  • Why there are never good hockey players born after August?
  • Why is practical intelligence more important than IQ?
  • Why is "concerted cultivation" critical for student achievement?
  • Why are autonomy, complexity and connection the key to happiness in work?
  • Why do Koreans make bad pilots and why are there less plane crashes when the first officer and not the pilot is flying the plane?
  • Why are Asians so good at math?
  • What one simple change can we make to schools to assure far greater success from low and middle socio-economic classes?
Looking at this seemingly unrelated group of questions, you might find it hard to understand how Gladwell relates them all, but there is indeed a method behind his madness, and by the conclusion of the book, you find that he nicely interweaves and explains how each question and answer support a very simple conclusion about why people become successful.

Overall, I found this book extremely interesting and a fast read. Although I really though it started strong, wavered in the middle, and finished on a high note, the book is excellent.

If you have inclination to become a giant success or, if nothing else, would like to know why Bill Gates is Bill Gates and how The Beatles became The Beatles, this is a book for you.

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