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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

32 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

Does having a disadvantage make you stronger in the long run? Ma

Does having a disadvantage make you stronger in the long run? Malcolm Gladwell explores this and similar questions in his latest book. Like his previous works, Gladwell delves into the stories of many people (some famous, some not) to determine why some become wildly su...
Does having a disadvantage make you stronger in the long run? Malcolm Gladwell explores this and similar questions in his latest book. Like his previous works, Gladwell delves into the stories of many people (some famous, some not) to determine why some become wildly successful whereas others crash and burn. Are there key elements in their upbringing that push people to excel?

Two interesting observations revolve around dyslexia and the loss of a parent. Some of the most prominent people in the world are, surprisingly, dyslexic. Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, and Brian Glazer are three. A shocking 12 of the 44 U.S. Presidents, including George Washington and Barack Obama, lost their fathers when they were young. Gladwell explores the possibility that people who are faced with a major disadvantage can use it to propel them to heights they otherwise would not have achieved.

While this book is very thought-provoking, I must admit that I can't completely agree with all of it. I found some conclusions to be over-simplified. Even so, this an entertaining and worthwhile read. Gladwell fans will definitely appreciate it.

Readers of this book should also consider two others with similar themes. Gladwell's stories reminded me of my favorite recent memoir, Dr. Anthony Youn's "In Stitches" which explores how a young underdog overcame his insecurities to eventually become a successful physician.

The second book I recommend is Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success" which examines what factors make some people succeed and others fail. A similar theme as "David and Goliath," this one looks at what intangibles contribute to one's success. It's a thought-provoking and fun read.

posted by 7970514 on October 1, 2013

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

34 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

Malcolm Gladwell has such a clean, lyrical, just downright fun t

Malcolm Gladwell has such a clean, lyrical, just downright fun to read style, that it is only by degrees,
over a series of his publications, I have slowly developed the opinion that his surgically clean,
brick-by-brick arguments are often fairly thin, sometimes blatan...
Malcolm Gladwell has such a clean, lyrical, just downright fun to read style, that it is only by degrees,
over a series of his publications, I have slowly developed the opinion that his surgically clean,
brick-by-brick arguments are often fairly thin, sometimes blatantly card-stacked and may lead to
highly questionable conclusions.

His latest publication David And Goliath, is, in my opinion, the most egregious in this regard.

Just today, I read of a study in the journal Pediatrics that found children without fixed bedtimes
were much more likely to develop behavioral problems by the age of seven.
The conclusion pointed to restlessness, irritability and other issues related to the lack of sleep.
 Yet It occurred to me that was quite a leap. Isn’t  it possible that parents who don’t enforce
regular bedtimes don’t enforce a lot of things?  Isn’t it possible that the children in the study developed
behavioral problems due to a lack of discipline and not a lack of sleep?  
I don’t know which is the right conclusion, but would not publish the former as science. 

This is my sense of Malcom Gladwell’s work; certainly in his latest work under discussion here.

A good example of what I’m talking about can be found in the opening chapter, where he attempts to
provide a partial explanation for Goliath’s behavior by suggesting that
( according to “many medical experts” ) he suffered from the medical condition acromegaly.

Sorry, but Really?

How is anyone, Doctor or not, to diagnose a complex medical condition from a few paragraphs
reported by a third party in an arcane religious text that, for all it’s beauty, is not always known
for its’ literal bent? It is like finding an ancient skull with a neatly bored hole in it and concluding
the civilization was competent at brain surgery. Maybe an interesting thought.
Maybe worth a bit more research. But not a fact to be employed in support of an argument.

David and Goliath also lacks a focus. Though most chapters do pertain to an underdog them of
some sort, some do not. In fact, the underdog theme seems designed to roll out the
Inverted-U-shaped curve theory, which then dominates the rest of the book. The book is more about
the idea that you CAN have too much of a good thing ( be too rich, have too small a class size…)
than it is about the little-guy winning.

Gladwell just doesn’t put two and two together in this book. He features a lengthy chapter about
California's three-strikes law as yet another example of the inverted-U-shaped curve,
 yet his statistics in support of the failure of the three-strikes-law are anything but conclusive.

In fact, he as much states that nobody really agrees as to whether “three-strikes” works.
He indicates the law was eventually significantly watered down and leaves you to deduce
that his proposed cause and effect was the reasoning behind it.

Lastly, and perhaps this is a bit shallow of me, but the subject matter of the book is often disturbing.
There is a chapter that describes children suffering terribly from Leukemia.
Another where a young girl is bound and tortured.  

It’s selfish, I know. But I don’t want to read that. I don’t want to pay to read that.

As Woody Allen’s fictional author in Manhattan once intoned while searching for an opening chapter,
 “Let’s face it, I want to sell a few books here”.  That is how I feel about David And Goliath.
Gladwell was on the hook for a new Bestseller but lacked the inspiration that led to the more
concise and “tighter” Outliers.

What we got was a collection of often disturbing essays that he struggles to stuff
beneath a single umbrella.

posted by Anonymous on October 16, 2013

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Malcolm Gladwell has such a clean, lyrical, just downright fun t

    Malcolm Gladwell has such a clean, lyrical, just downright fun to read style, that it is only by degrees,
    over a series of his publications, I have slowly developed the opinion that his surgically clean,
    brick-by-brick arguments are often fairly thin, sometimes blatantly card-stacked and may lead to
    highly questionable conclusions.

    His latest publication David And Goliath, is, in my opinion, the most egregious in this regard.

    Just today, I read of a study in the journal Pediatrics that found children without fixed bedtimes
    were much more likely to develop behavioral problems by the age of seven.
    The conclusion pointed to restlessness, irritability and other issues related to the lack of sleep.
     Yet It occurred to me that was quite a leap. Isn’t  it possible that parents who don’t enforce
    regular bedtimes don’t enforce a lot of things?  Isn’t it possible that the children in the study developed
    behavioral problems due to a lack of discipline and not a lack of sleep?  
    I don’t know which is the right conclusion, but would not publish the former as science. 

    This is my sense of Malcom Gladwell’s work; certainly in his latest work under discussion here.

    A good example of what I’m talking about can be found in the opening chapter, where he attempts to
    provide a partial explanation for Goliath’s behavior by suggesting that
    ( according to “many medical experts” ) he suffered from the medical condition acromegaly.

    Sorry, but Really?

    How is anyone, Doctor or not, to diagnose a complex medical condition from a few paragraphs
    reported by a third party in an arcane religious text that, for all it’s beauty, is not always known
    for its’ literal bent? It is like finding an ancient skull with a neatly bored hole in it and concluding
    the civilization was competent at brain surgery. Maybe an interesting thought.
    Maybe worth a bit more research. But not a fact to be employed in support of an argument.

    David and Goliath also lacks a focus. Though most chapters do pertain to an underdog them of
    some sort, some do not. In fact, the underdog theme seems designed to roll out the
    Inverted-U-shaped curve theory, which then dominates the rest of the book. The book is more about
    the idea that you CAN have too much of a good thing ( be too rich, have too small a class size…)
    than it is about the little-guy winning.

    Gladwell just doesn’t put two and two together in this book. He features a lengthy chapter about
    California's three-strikes law as yet another example of the inverted-U-shaped curve,
     yet his statistics in support of the failure of the three-strikes-law are anything but conclusive.

    In fact, he as much states that nobody really agrees as to whether “three-strikes” works.
    He indicates the law was eventually significantly watered down and leaves you to deduce
    that his proposed cause and effect was the reasoning behind it.

    Lastly, and perhaps this is a bit shallow of me, but the subject matter of the book is often disturbing.
    There is a chapter that describes children suffering terribly from Leukemia.
    Another where a young girl is bound and tortured.  

    It’s selfish, I know. But I don’t want to read that. I don’t want to pay to read that.

    As Woody Allen’s fictional author in Manhattan once intoned while searching for an opening chapter,
     “Let’s face it, I want to sell a few books here”.  That is how I feel about David And Goliath.
    Gladwell was on the hook for a new Bestseller but lacked the inspiration that led to the more
    concise and “tighter” Outliers.

    What we got was a collection of often disturbing essays that he struggles to stuff
    beneath a single umbrella.

    34 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 15, 2013

    Not as good as his other two books

    I didn't think this book was nearly as good as his other two books, which I really enjoyed. This book didn't seem to contain any great discoveries or revelations.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2014

    So-so!

    I don't understand what the big fuss is about. Found the book interesting but not worthy of a best seller

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    To so-so!!!

    How are you babby bye

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    too much hype

    this book was simply OK..

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Compared to his other books

    This book is OK and has some interesting facts. The last third of the book is boaring and the conclusion is just another chapter that doesn't tie everything together. Compared to his previous books I think this rates at the bottom of writings.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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