Over the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has become the most gifted and influential journalist in America. In The New Yorker, his writings are such must-reads that the magazine charges advertisers significantly more money for ads that run within his articles. With his number-one best sellers, The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers, he has reached millions of readers. And now the very best and most famous of his New Yorker pieces are collected in a brilliant and provocative anthology.
Among the pieces: his investigation into why there are so many different kinds of mustard but only one kind of ketchup; a surprising assessment of what makes for a safer automobile; a look at how we hire when we can't tell who's right for the job; an examination of machine built to predict hit movies; the reasons why homelessness might be easier to solve than manage; his famous profile of inventor and entrepreneur Ron Popeil; a look at why employers love personality tests; a dissection of Ivy League admissions and who gets in; the saga of the quest to invent the perfect cookie; and a look at hair dye and the hidden history of postwar America.
For the millions of Malcolm Gladwell fans, this anthology is like a greatest hits compilation-a mix tape from America's alpha mind.
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Gladwell's essays contain everything you could want in non-fiction -- insight, humor, interesting subject matter. But there's more, because what Gladwell tries to do is offer a glimpse of some larger point, say, about the conclusions we draw from data, or about the ways we communicate with each other and the assumptions we make on a daily basis. It's part human-interest story, part social commentary, and part philosophy of science.
Great book, and the author reads clearly with excellent tone.
What the Dog Saw
This is that rare book which full of genuinely original insights on a startling array of apparently commonplace subjects. Occasionally the conclusions seem truncated, but the range of Gladwell's mind and his ability to see human behavior in often startling perspectives make this book a rare pleasure. Not "thinking outside the box" so much as getting rid of the box altogether.
Interesting, but thin on evidence
Pros: I like that the book is broken up into many different stories, and MG always does a good job at telling the story. He looks for insights beyond what you might expect (or even contrary to them). It definitely makes you think - for example, the story about the failings of NASA with Challenger, and how in the years after all the work in determining the cause of the failure could be pinned to something we could define as "fixable" when in fact, it might now have been fixable at all. But we need to find something that makes us feel better...something that leads us to a world where we have better control. It's an interesting position and he provides his position in a clear way.
Cons: As with all of his books (and yes, I've read them so I must enjoy them to some extent), I find that he often belabors his points. Blink and Tipping Point are filled with anecdotes that support his main theme and in the process, I get bored. Even though this is a collection of short stories with different themes, I often found myself tuning out. Partly because it seemed certain stories got more minutes than they probably deserved (even in a short format), but mainly because I found his evidence to be thin. Often using a singular example to refute something (e.g., McKinsey's star theory), followed by gross generalizations and sweeping conclusions (by the way MG, P&G does hire MBAs from top business schools - they don't hire from Harvard b/c if you want to work in consumer goods, you go to a school that focuses on Marketing ... and not HBS).
Overall, it's entertaining here and there. But I think I'm done with MG. To me, this felt a lot more like fiction than his other works.