Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers and why they often go wrong—now with a new afterword by the author.
A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Press
How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to one another that isn’t true?
Talking to Strangers is a classically Gladwellian intellectual adventure, a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. He revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, and the death of Sandra Bland—throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt.
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world. In his first book since his #1 bestseller David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell has written a gripping guidebook for troubled times.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Malcolm Gladwell has created a thought-provoking exploration of how we respond to unfamiliar people and situations. In his always engaging and accessible way, the New Yorker writer explores how first encounters can have devastating consequences, from the fall of the Aztec empire to Fidel Castro fooling the CIA. This book is a different sort of read than previous Gladwell bestsellers like The Tipping Point and Outliers—he writes more openly about his own thoughts and feelings on the topics he covers, which made us reexamine how we react in unfamiliar circumstances. Talking to Strangers feels like an important reminder to think twice before making snap judgments.
In this thoughtful treatise spurred by the 2015 death of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who hanged herself in jail after a traffic stop, New Yorker writer Gladwell (The Tipping Point) aims to figure out the strategies people use to assess strangers to "analyze , critique them, figure out where they came from, figure out how to fix them," in other words: to understand how to balance trust and safety. He uses a variety of examples from history and recent headlines to illustrate that people size up the motivations, emotions, and trustworthiness of those they don't know both wrongly and with misplaced confidence. He relates, for example, the story of a whole cadre of American spies in Cuba who were carefully handpicked by American intelligence operatives, all of whom turned out to be pro-Castro double agents. Gladwell writes in his signature colorful, fluid, and accessible prose, though he occasionally fails to make fully clear the connection between a seemingly tangential topic such as suicide risk and the book's main questions. In addition to providing an analysis of human mental habits and interactions, Gladwell pleas for more thoughtful ways of behaving and advocates for people to embrace trust, rather than defaulting to distrust, and not to "blame the stranger." Readers will find this both fascinating and topical.
Insightful, relevant, easy to read
This book covers there main sociological topics in a good explanatory manner and relates them to many relevnt examples in modern life. It is easy to read, thanks to the author’s style of writing, but can be a little repetitive, especially of simple topics, which can be tedious. Overall, a worthwhile choice for the curious mind and anyone what looks to improve their views on the world.
unreadable.... not an interesting sentence in the book.
I’m a fan of Gladwell's, so it was an easy choice to have this as my first read of 2020. In typical fashion, he takes a deep dive in observing the facts and nuances of a topic to glean lessons from it. In the case of this book, he deals with the case of Sandra Bland in the U.S., and explores other tragic stories to explore the depths and learn more, all the while teaching the reader, about talking to strangers.