Saturday, March 15, 2014

David and Goliath -- Malcolm Gladwell ------------------------- 3.5 Stars

I love Maclolm Gladwell books.  I have read them all and think that Tipping Point and Blink are among my favorites.  So, it was with great excitement I purchased his new book: David and Goliath.  Normally, I borrow new books from the library as they are quite expensive, so I was so excited to see that this was available on Amazon for only $3.99; now I know why.

This book is very mediocre.  Great premise: what people often think are weaknesses are actually strengths and areas where people think they have a disadvantage can be advantages.  He starts off with some great chapters and continues his typical style of introducing a new 'anecdote' for each chapter and 'point' he is trying to make.  The book starts off really strong.  There is a great chapter about basketball and full court pressing and then moves on to talk about dyslexia and how many CEOs and other very successful people have dyslexia and have 'compensated' through having strengths in other areas. 

Perhaps one of my favorite ideas he talked about was the idea of an inverted U.  Basically, its a theory that talks about how as you go up in number it improves or changes things for the better until it gets too big then goes back down.  The case he uses, which was very interesting, was class size.  The point in the context for the book was: one assumes that smaller class size is always better but that's not true.  Once you get to a certain number that is too small, the class actually gets worst.  Same on the other end; so, you want the number in the middle. 

Anyway, the book had a really solid first third.  The last third was more difficult to get through.  The stories were less interesting and less connected and less supportive of his overall thesis.  In fact, some of the stories were just bad.  I think the biggest problem with the book was the overall idea in general.  With Tipping Point and Blink, Gladwell does such an amazing job of making you understand not just his theory but why its important to know in our lives today.  While he tries to follow that same goal with this book, it falls more flat.  The theory is not as good, the cases are not as supportive, and the writing is less exciting.

Nonetheless, I still recommend the book, especially if you are Gladwell fan.  His writing style is still very engaging and the stories he offered are pretty interesting, especially at the start.  It's not a long read and is pretty easy to get through so I would definitely recommend. 

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