December 18, 2017

Book Beat: Malcolm Gladwell Fascinates Yet Again


I find myself keeping an eye out for books by Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer at The New Yorker Magazine and best-selling non-fiction author. He now has a brand of sorts, brilliantly weaving short stories together to illustrate an over-arching theme. In his latest book, David and Goliath – Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants, he tackles the topic of adversity and upends our thoughts on seemingly negative situations.

Goldwell starts with the old bible story of the Philistine giant Goliath being defeated by a much smaller and younger David who later becomes king of Israel. The author then puts dyslexia, classroom size, Lawrence of Arabia, the civil rights movement and other disparate topics into his psychological, historical and sociological blender and looks at them through the lens of his book’s theme. Who has the upper hand is not always apparent.

Critics have accused Gladwell of “running out of tricks,” but I for one find his books amusing with a perfect blend of lightness and non-fiction. You can skip around and peruse just a little at a time, indispensable for public transportation reading. Or listen to an audio version as accompaniment to your lighter tasks. I appreciate his ability to make me look at topics in a fresh manner with writing that is like the best reportage, clear and concise with a hint of humor.

Gladwell’s books published by Little, Brown and Company in order are:
The Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000)
Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005)
Outliers – The Story of Success (2008)
What the Dog Saw and other adventures (2009)
David and Goliath (2013)

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