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

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In his #1 bestselling books THE TIPPING POINT, BLINK and OUTLIERS, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways in which we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways in which the weak can defeat the strong, how the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. Drawing upon examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology and an array of unforgettable characters ...

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In his #1 bestselling books THE TIPPING POINT, BLINK and OUTLIERS, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways in which we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways in which the weak can defeat the strong, how the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. Drawing upon examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology and an array of unforgettable characters around the world, DAVID AND GOLIATH is in many ways the most practical and provocative book Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.
We all know that underdogs can win-that's what the David versus Goliath legend tells us, and we've seen it with our own eyes. Or have we? In DAVID AND GOLIATH, Malcolm Gladwell uncovers the hidden dynamics that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty, the powerful and the dispossessed. Gladwell takes us to the battlefields of Northern Ireland and Vietnam, into the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, and digs into the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms-all in an attempt to demonstrate how fundamentally we misunderstand the true meaning of advantages and disadvantages. When is a traumatic childhood a good thing? When does a disability leave someone better off? Do you really want your child to go to the best school he or she can get into? Why are the childhoods of people at the top of one profession after another marked by deprivation and struggle?

Drawing upon psychology, history, science, business, politics and his own unparalleled ability to grasp the connections others miss, DAVID AND GOLIATH is a beautifully written book about the mighty leverage of the unconventional. Millions of readers have been waiting for the next Malcolm Gladwell book. That wait is over.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Apparently, Malcolm Gladwell doesn't blink. For more than a dozen years, the author of The Tipping Point, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw has continued observing topics astutely, in each case discerning meaningful patterns that the rest of us have missed. In his latest bestseller-to-be, he probes the often deceptive contests between giants and apparent underdogs. As usual, his research covers a vast terrain; in this case, from Cold War battlefields to the minutiae of microscopic cancer research; and as usual, his findings are as telling as they are surprising. David and Goliath reminds us again that with the proper guide, almost everything can be seen anew.

Atlanta Journal & Constitution
"No other book I read this year combines such a distinctive prose style with truly thought-provoking content. Gladwell writes with a high degree of dazzle but at the same time remains as clear and direct as even Strunk or White could hope for."
Men's Health
"Outliers is required reading for boardroom and watercooler crowds alike."
Praise for The Tipping Point

"A fascinating book that makes you see the world in a different way."

Praise for Blink

"A real pleasure...Brims with surprising insights about our world and ourselves."

Gregory Kirschling - Entertainment Weekly
"The explosively entertaining Outliers might be Gladwell's best and most useful work yet...There are both brilliant yarns and life lessons here: Outliers is riveting science, self-help, and entertainment, all in one book."
David Brooks - New York Times
"Gladwell's theories could be used to run businesses more effectively, to turn products into runaway bestsellers, and perhaps most important, to alter human behavior."
Thane Rosenbaum - Los Angeles Times
"Intoxicating".Gladwell is an engaging writer and a first-rate tour guide.?
David Leonhardt - New York Times Book Review
"BLINK moves quickly through a series of delightful stories?.Always dazzling us with fascinating information and phenomena."
Heller McAlpin - Christian Science Monitor
"Thought-provoking, entertaining, and irresistibly debatable...[Outliers] is another winner from this agile social observer."
Atlanta Journal Constitution
"No other book I read this year combines such a distinctive prose style with truly thought-provoking content. Gladwell writes with a high degree of dazzle but at the same time remains as clear and direct as even Strunk or White could hope for."
From the Publisher
"Truly intriguing and inspiring."—Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

"Provocative....David and Goliath is a lean, consuming read."—John Wilwol, San Francisco Chronicle

"As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking."—Joe Nocera, New York Times

"Fascinating....Gladwell is a master of synthesis. This perennially bestselling author prides himself on radical re-thinking and urges the rest of us to follow suit."—Heller McAlpin, Washington Post

"What propels the book, like all of Gladwell's writing, is his intoxicating brand of storytelling. He is the master of mixing familiar elements with surprise counter-intuitions, and then seasoning with a sprinkling of scientific evidence....Gladwell is a master craftsman, an outlier amongst authors."—Rob Brooks, Huffington Post

"Gladwell's most provocative book yet. David and Goliath challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, drawing upon history, psychology, and powerful narrative talent to rethink how we view the world around us and how to deal with the challenges life throws at us."—Susanne Jaffe, Columbus Dispatch

"Gladwell has made a career out of questioning conventional wisdom, and here he examines the allegedly unlikely triumph of the weak over the mighty and shows it's not so unlikely after all. 4 stars."—Judith Newman, People Magazine

"Engrossing.... Gladwell's singular gift is animating the experience of his subjects. He has an uncanny ability to simplify without being simplistic: clean and vivid Strunk and White prose in the service of peerless storytelling."—David Takami, Seattle Times

"Contemporary society can't escape history when Malcolm Gladwell explains the world as he does with David and Goliath."—Jane Henderson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell explores the dynamics that inform and effect our everyday lives. By analyzing the Biblical account of the clash between David and Goliath, Gladwell presents a bold new interpretation of the lessons we should apply from it."—Today Show

Library Journal
New Yorker staff writer Gladwell (Tipping Point; What the Dog Saw) argues that what may appear to be the obvious answer to questions may not be so obvious. For instance: Do smaller classroom sizes mean students will have higher grades and test scores? Has California's Three Strikes law lowered crime in that state? He compares the biblical story of David and Goliath (the battle between the underdog and the giant) to events from everyday life that question how people think about disadvantages and obstacles. Through extensive research and interviews, he analyzes the pluses and minuses of classroom size and university selection. He discusses the theory of "desirable difficulty" from the perspective of civil rights leaders, cancer researchers, and dyslexics, as well as the limits of power after losing a loved one to a tragic event. VERDICT A thought-provoking book that makes readers consider what's below the surface and investigate deeper into what goes on in our day-to-day lives and in the world at large. Recommended for anyone who wants to learn how to examine facts in an alternative manner, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and researchers studying psychology, sociology, and history.—Tina Chan, SUNY Oswego
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
A far- and free-ranging meditation on the age-old struggle between underdogs and top dogs. Beginning with the legendary matchup between the Philistine giant and the scrawny shepherd boy of the title, New Yorker scribe Gladwell (What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, 2009, etc.) returns continually to his main theme: that there are unsung advantages to being disadvantaged and overlooked disadvantages to being "advantaged." Though the book begins like a self-help manual--an early chapter on a middle school girl's basketball team that devastated more talented opponents with a gritty, full-court press game seems to suggest a replicable strategy, at least in basketball, and a later one shows how it's almost patently easier to accomplish more by being a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond--it soon becomes clear that Gladwell is not interested in simple formulas or templates for success. He aims to probe deeply into the nature of underdog-ness and explore why top dogs have long had such trouble with underdogs--in scholastic and athletic competitions, in the struggle for success or renown in all professions, and in insurgencies and counterinsurgencies the world over. Telling the stories of some amazingly accomplished people, including superlawyer David Boies, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, and childhood-leukemia researcher Jay Freireich, Gladwell shows that deficits one wouldn't wish on anyone, like learning disabilities or deprived childhoods, can require a person to adapt to the world in ways that later become supreme benefits in professional life. On the other hand, children of the newly wealthy who have had every good fortune their parents lacked tend to become less well-equipped to deal with life's random but inevitable challenges. In addition to the top-notch writing one expects from a New Yorker regular, Gladwell rewards readers with moving stories, surprising insights and consistently provocative ideas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316239851
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 515,155
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw. Prior to joining The New Yorker, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 3, 1963
    2. Place of Birth:
      England, U.K.
    1. Education:
      University of Toronto, History degree, 1984

Read an Excerpt

David and Goliath

Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

By Malcolm Gladwell

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2013 Malcolm Gladwell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-316-20436-1


At the heart of ancient Palestine is the region known as the Shephelah, a series of ridges and valleys connecting the Judaean Mountains to the east with the wide, flat expanse of the Mediterranean plain. It is an area of breathtaking beauty, home to vineyards and wheat fields and forests of sycamore and terebinth. It is also of great strategic importance.

Over the centuries, numerous battles have been fought for control of the region because the valleys rising from the Mediterranean plain offer those on the coast a clear path to the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem in the Judaean highlands. The most important valley is Aijalon, in the north. But the most storied is the Elah. The Elah was where Saladin faced off against the Knights of the Crusades in the twelfth century. It played a central role in the Maccabean wars with Syria more than a thousand years before that, and, most famously, during the days of the Old Testament, it was where the fledgling Kingdom of Israel squared off against the armies of the Philistines.

The Philistines were from Crete. They were a seafaring people who had moved to Palestine and settled along the coast. The Israelites were clustered in the mountains, under the leadership of King Saul. In the second half of the eleventh century bce, the Philistines began moving east, winding their way upstream along the floor of the Elah Valley. Their goal was to capture the mountain ridge near Bethlehem and split Saul's kingdom in two. The Philistines were battle-tested and dangerous, and the sworn enemies of the Israelites. Alarmed, Saul gathered his men and hastened down from the mountains to confront them.

The Philistines set up camp along the southern ridge of the Elah. The Israelites pitched their tents on the other side, along the northern ridge, which left the two armies looking across the ravine at each other. Neither dared to move. To attack meant descending down the hill and then making a suicidal climb up the enemy's ridge on the other side. Finally, the Philistines had enough. They sent their greatest warrior down into the valley to resolve the deadlock one on one.

He was a giant, six foot nine at least, wearing a bronze helmet and full body armor. He carried a javelin, a spear, and a sword. An attendant preceded him, carrying a large shield. The giant faced the Israelites and shouted out: "Choose you a man and let him come down to me! If he prevail in battle against me and strike me down, we shall be slaves to you. But if I prevail and strike him down, you will be slaves to us and serve us."

In the Israelite camp, no one moved. Who could win against such a terrifying opponent? Then, a shepherd boy who had come down from Bethlehem to bring food to his brothers stepped forward and volunteered. Saul objected: "You cannot go against this Philistine to do battle with him, for you are a lad and he is a man of war from his youth." But the shepherd was adamant. He had faced more ferocious opponents than this, he argued. "When the lion or the bear would come and carry off a sheep from the herd," he told Saul, "I would go after him and strike him down and rescue it from his clutches." Saul had no other options. He relented, and the shepherd boy ran down the hill toward the giant standing in the valley. "Come to me, that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field," the giant cried out when he saw his opponent approach. Thus began one of history's most famous battles. The giant's name was Goliath. The shepherd boy's name was David.


David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By "giants," I mean powerful opponents of all kinds—from armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, and oppression. Each chapter tells the story of a different person—famous or unknown, ordinary or brilliant—who has faced an outsize challenge and been forced to respond. Should I play by the rules or follow my own instincts? Shall I persevere or give up? Should I strike back or forgive?

Through these stories, I want to explore two ideas. The first is that much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And second, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable. We need a better guide to facing giants—and there is no better place to start that journey than with the epic confrontation between David and Goliath three thousand years ago in the Valley of Elah.

When Goliath shouted out to the Israelites, he was asking for what was known as "single combat." This was a common practice in the ancient world. Two sides in a conflict would seek to avoid the heavy bloodshed of open battle by choosing one warrior to represent each in a duel. For example, the first-century bce Roman historian Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius tells of an epic battle in which a Gaul warrior began mocking his Roman opponents. "This immediately aroused the great indignation of one Titus Manlius, a youth of the highest birth," Quadrigarius writes. Titus challenged the Gaul to a duel:

He stepped forward, and would not suffer Roman valour to be shamefully tarnished by a Gaul. Armed with a legionary's shield and a Spanish sword, he confronted the Gaul. Their fight took place on the very bridge [over the Anio River] in the presence of both armies, amid great apprehension. Thus they confronted each other: the Gaul, according to his method of fighting, with shield advanced and awaiting an attack; Manlius, relying on courage rather than skill, struck shield against shield and threw the Gaul off balance. While the Gaul was trying to regain the same position, Manlius again struck shield against shield and again forced the man to change his ground. In this fashion he slipped under the Gaul's sword and stabbed him in the chest with his Spanish blade.... After he had slain him, Manlius cut off the Gaul's head, tore off his tongue and put it, covered as it was with blood, around his own neck.

This is what Goliath was expecting—a warrior like himself to come forward for hand-to-hand combat. It never occurred to him that the battle would be fought on anything other than those terms, and he prepared accordingly. To protect himself against blows to the body, he wore an elaborate tunic made up of hundreds of overlapping bronze fishlike scales. It covered his arms and reached to his knees and probably weighed more than a hundred pounds. He had bronze shin guards protecting his legs, with attached bronze plates covering his feet. He wore a heavy metal helmet. He had three separate weapons, all optimized for close combat. He held a thrusting javelin made entirely of bronze, which was capable of penetrating a shield or even armor. He had a sword on his hip. And as his primary option, he carried a special kind of short-range spear with a metal shaft as "thick as a weaver's beam." It had a cord attached to it and an elaborate set of weights that allowed it to be released with extraordinary force and accuracy. As the historian Moshe Garsiel writes, "To the Israelites, this extraordinary spear, with its heavy shaft plus long and heavy iron blade, when hurled by Goliath's strong arm, seemed capable of piercing any bronze shield and bronze armor together." Can you see why no Israelite would come forward to fight Goliath?

Then David appears. Saul tries to give him his own sword and armor so at least he'll have a fighting chance. David refuses. "I cannot walk in these," he says, "for I am unused to it." Instead he reaches down and picks up five smooth stones, and puts them in his shoulder bag. Then he descends into the valley, carrying his shepherd's staff. Goliath looks at the boy coming toward him and is insulted. He was expecting to do battle with a seasoned warrior. Instead he sees a shepherd—a boy from one of the lowliest of all professions—who seems to want to use his shepherd's staff as a cudgel against Goliath's sword. "Am I a dog," Goliath says, gesturing at the staff, "that you should come to me with sticks?"

What happens next is a matter of legend. David puts one of his stones into the leather pouch of a sling, and he fires at Goliath's exposed forehead. Goliath falls, stunned. David runs toward him, seizes the giant's sword, and cuts off his head. "The Philistines saw that their warrior was dead," the biblical account reads, "and they fled."

The battle is won miraculously by an underdog who, by all expectations, should not have won at all. This is the way we have told one another the story over the many centuries since. It is how the phrase "David and Goliath" has come to be embedded in our language—as a metaphor for improbable victory. And the problem with that version of the events is that almost everything about it is wrong.


Ancient armies had three kinds of warriors. The first was cavalry—armed men on horseback or in chariots. The second was infantry—foot soldiers wearing armor and carrying swords and shields. The third were projectile warriors, or what today would be called artillery: archers and, most important, slingers. Slingers had a leather pouch attached on two sides by a long strand of rope. They would put a rock or a lead ball into the pouch, swing it around in increasingly wider and faster circles, and then release one end of the rope, hurling the rock forward.

Slinging took an extraordinary amount of skill and practice. But in experienced hands, the sling was a devastating weapon. Paintings from medieval times show slingers hitting birds in midflight. Irish slingers were said to be able to hit a coin from as far away as they could see it, and in the Old Testament Book of Judges, slingers are described as being accurate within a "hair's breadth." An experienced slinger could kill or seriously injure a target at a distance of up to two hundred yards. [The modern world record for slinging a stone was set in 1981 by Larry Bray: 437 meters. Obviously, at that distance, accuracy suffers.] The Romans even had a special set of tongs made just to remove stones that had been embedded in some poor soldier's body by a sling. Imagine standing in front of a Major League Baseball pitcher as he aims a baseball at your head. That's what facing a slinger was like—only what was being thrown was not a ball of cork and leather but a solid rock.

The historian Baruch Halpern argues that the sling was of such importance in ancient warfare that the three kinds of warriors balanced one another, like each gesture in the game of rock, paper, scissors. With their long pikes and armor, infantry could stand up to cavalry. Cavalry could, in turn, defeat projectile warriors, because the horses moved too quickly for artillery to take proper aim. And projectile warriors were deadly against infantry, because a big lumbering soldier, weighed down with armor, was a sitting duck for a slinger who was launching projectiles from a hundred yards away. "This is why the Athenian expedition to Sicily failed in the Peloponnesian War," Halpern writes. "Thucydides describes at length how Athens's heavy infantry was decimated in the mountains by local light infantry, principally using the sling."

Goliath is heavy infantry. He thinks that he is going to be engaged in a duel with another heavy-infantryman, in the same manner as Titus Manlius's fight with the Gaul. When he says, "Come to me, that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field," the key phrase is "come to me." He means come right up to me so that we can fight at close quarters. When Saul tries to dress David in armor and give him a sword, he is operating under the same assumption. He assumes David is going to fight Goliath hand to hand.

David, however, has no intention of honoring the rituals of single combat. When he tells Saul that he has killed bears and lions as a shepherd, he does so not just as testimony to his courage but to make another point as well: that he intends to fight Goliath the same way he has learned to fight wild animals—as a projectile warrior.

He runs toward Goliath, because without armor he has speed and maneuverability. He puts a rock into his sling, and whips it around and around, faster and faster at six or seven revolutions per second, aiming his projectile at Goliath's forehead—the giant's only point of vulnerability. Eitan Hirsch, a ballistics expert with the Israeli Defense Forces, recently did a series of calculations showing that a typical-size stone hurled by an expert slinger at a distance of thirty-five meters would have hit Goliath's head with a velocity of thirty-four meters per second—more than enough to penetrate his skull and render him unconscious or dead. In terms of stopping power, that is equivalent to a fair-size modern handgun. "We find," Hirsch writes, "that David could have slung and hit Goliath in little more than one second—a time so brief that Goliath would not have been able to protect himself and during which he would be stationary for all practical purposes."

What could Goliath do? He was carrying over a hundred pounds of armor. He was prepared for a battle at close range, where he could stand, immobile, warding off blows with his armor and delivering a mighty thrust of his spear. He watched David approach, first with scorn, then with surprise, and then with what can only have been horror—as it dawned on him that the battle he was expecting had suddenly changed shape.

"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin," David said to Goliath, "but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.... All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Twice David mentions Goliath's sword and spear, as if to emphasize how profoundly different his intentions are. Then he reaches into his shepherd's bag for a stone, and at that point no one watching from the ridges on either side of the valley would have considered David's victory improbable. David was a slinger, and slingers beat infantry, hands down.

"Goliath had as much chance against David," the historian Robert Dohrenwend writes, "as any Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have had against an [opponent] armed with a .45 automatic pistol."


Why has there been so much misunderstanding around that day in the Valley of Elah? On one level, the duel reveals the folly of our assumptions about power. The reason King Saul is skeptical of David's chances is that David is small and Goliath is large. Saul thinks of power in terms of physical might. He doesn't appreciate that power can come in other forms as well—in breaking rules, in substituting speed and surprise for strength. Saul is not alone in making this mistake. In the pages that follow, I'm going to argue that we continue to make that error today, in ways that have consequences for everything from how we educate our children to how we fight crime and disorder.

But there's a second, deeper issue here. Saul and the Israelites think they know who Goliath is. They size him up and jump to conclusions about what they think he is capable of. But they do not really see him. The truth is that Goliath's behavior is puzzling. He is supposed to be a mighty warrior. But he's not acting like one. He comes down to the valley floor accompanied by an attendant—a servant walking before him, carrying a shield. Shield bearers in ancient times often accompanied archers into battle because a soldier using a bow and arrow had no free hand to carry any kind of protection on his own. But why does Goliath, a man calling for sword-on-sword single combat, need to be assisted by a third party carrying an archer's shield?


Excerpted from David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Copyright © 2013 Malcolm Gladwell. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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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.

    35 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    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 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.

    32 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    The biblical story of David and Goliath is a story of courage bu

    The biblical story of David and Goliath is a story of courage but also of overestimating strengths and misunderstanding the power of playing a different game to make the person who seems weakest be victorious.

    In the face improbable odds, finding themselves inferior in scale, ability or resources is what pushes certain people to try things out of the ordinary, re-think the rules and play a different strategy – which is a formula for winning. This book makes the point in the story of Bedouins, David and Goliath and the underdog basketball team that goes undefeated.

    Malcolm invites us to challenge the assumption that bigger is better. One of his key points is that when you are too big , too good, too strong – you advantage starts becoming a disadvantage. He challenges us to re-think our assumptions of what is good, what is bad, what is a strength, and what is an advantage. He points out that disadvantages can be advantages and that difficulties can produce resiliency and courage.

    The central line is about the power of being different, becoming the big fish in a small pond that you create rather than being a small fish in a large pond – like the impressionists, who created their own pond, went against the current, and converted their weakness into strength.

    Adversity has the potential to make us much stronger, more resilient and courageous – when it does not crush us. People who have gone through difficult times tend to think different, challenge the status quo, and take the bold chances that people who have had it easy have not had the need or the guts to do. Those who re-think the rules and take a new road are the people who change the world.

    The second part of the book is about the idea that if you are Goliath, if you are in a position of strength, trying to dominate the Davids by force can be counterproductive. Authority requires legitimacy. The book talks about stories from MLK to religious clashes in Ireland to make the point.

    As you expect from Malcom, the stories are very interesting, enjoyable and even captivating. Yet, at the end of the day the book does not leave you with a set of powerful ideas that you have not heard before. The story of David and Goliath is thousands of years old and has been told many times.

    I did not find this book as intellectually stimulating as some of his previous books that have left me with a new way of thinking and have provided a foundation for more ideas to be built upon, like the Tipping Point or Blink. I can recommend this as an enjoyable read but not a breakthrough.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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.

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  • Posted November 6, 2013

    Highly recommend

    My adult daughter terned me on to Malcolm's books a few years ago with his second book Blink. I have know read all his books. They are an excellant source of why and how people think and respond to everyday life.
    His latest David and Goliath explains how and why someone perceived to be an underdog can succeed.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Mary DeKok Blowers for Readers' Favorite David and

    Reviewed by Mary DeKok Blowers for Readers' Favorite

    David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell is a business psychology book, dealing with behaviors that contribute to success, either understandably or conversely. The name refers to the account in the Christian Bible of David, a young shepherd boy who was destined to become King of Israel. The reason it relates to the principles in this book is that one episode in David’s life included battling Goliath, a Philistine giant who was challenging the Israelites. David was clearly an underdog, with no weapons, armor, or physical magnitude. What he did have was skill in killing wild beasts with a sling and stones, while protecting his sheep. He refused the current king’s offer of armor and weapons as being too heavy and unfamiliar to him. Gladwell states, “He shouldn’t have won — Or should he have?” What David also had was the favor of the omnipotent God. Gladwell’s rationale, however, states in details of the Biblical account, Goliath could not see well and was mentally defective, merely a brute force to flatten the enemy. 

    Whatever the factors, David did come through for the Israelites. Malcolm Gladwell goes on to give many examples of poor schools, handicapped people, and others, who maintain advantages that are unseen by others. Football teams that don’t have the best players but have a goal merely to try harder than anyone else may well win the game. Richard Branson, who has dyslexia, is profiled. He went above and beyond his expectations to found Virgin, the multifaceted corporation of great success. The point is that no matter your disadvantages, you can rise above and accomplish great things.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Mr. Gladwell has a gift for research and connecting it to the co

    Mr. Gladwell has a gift for research and connecting it to the common experience of life.  In his present work, he takes what is universally held as plainly true and sheds light on that “common knowledge” causing the reader (me, at least) to see: the power in “weaker vessels,” the abundance of strength being a liability, the genius of acting on what one knows, doing the “unthinkable” is often a move of the desperate but is often one that brings most possibilities and how revenge costs more than the offense it is intended to “balance.”  He does so in his typical clear, inviting prose so well written that this non-fiction book often reads as if it could be developed as a screenplay.
    The book opens with the familiar story of David and Goliath, but Mr. Gladwell “exposes” (actually he does a complete exegesis of the Biblical passage) the story to reveal that, while David was the smaller, less powerful member of that particular duo, everyone who witnessed his preparation for the battle knew that he would be victor.  The power he held was in his using what he knew, doing what he did best and not acting according to “the script” before him.  For the remainder of that section, this theme is repeated in various forms, from a father who did not know basketball leading his daughter’s team to the championships, to teachers successfully teaching in impossible settings, to how being a small fish in a large pond (educationally speaking) allows for a better education.
    The next section speaks to the benefits of persevering through long periods of difficulty.  The author speaks of how adversity brings about strengths that can only be “earned” through the exercise of living the pain of extreme hardship.  He speaks of those who have overcome dyslexia, grinding poverty compounded by lack of parenting and slavery to “beat the odds” to became (respectively) leaders in finance, the discoverer of the cure for childhood leukemia and helped defeat the tyranny of dictators.
    The last section, “The Limits of Power,” maybe the most enlightening part of a book full of “doors being opened.”  Living in a country that is the most powerful and wealthy ever to exist, it would benefit all of us to reflect upon just what that “wealth” and “power” actually means and how it needs to define each of us.  When those blessings (power, etc.) are held with a sense of entitlement, according to Mr. Gladwell’s research, they reveal themselves to be more liabilities than benefit.  However, when one manages them with the attitude of being a custodian for the profit of everyone, those words go from nouns of oppression to verbs of freedom.  To me, this underscores the truth of “to him (she) who much has been given, much is expected.”
    This is a book that is rather lengthy but easily read.  There is some violence described in the course of the book but it is short and only serves to highlight the point being discussed, likewise, the few “harsh” words used.  As I have found to be true with all of Mr. Gladwell’s books, this one must be read in its entirety to fully understand his message.  It is a good book to be twice given – to receive and read or to read and give.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2013

    Starts off great, didn't hold interest for entirety

    This book uses lots of analogies to make points about personal or social strengths and weaknesses. Several social upheavals were referenced, both from American history and in other parts of the world. So, there are opportunities to learn some history and to analyze it in new ways. However, some of the situations used as topics were terribly un-interesting to me. I ended up skipping over a couple of sections that seemed boring or redundant. In that way, I thought the book was too long.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2013

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newb

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, October 22, 2013.

    This book is not about underdogs and giants in any conventional sense of these terms. Rather, the book is about the curious nature of advantages and disadvantages, and how each can (under certain circumstances) become its opposite.

    The first lesson to be learned is that the things we take to be advantages are often no such thing. Our greatest mistake here comes from the fact that we identify a certain quality or characteristic as being a benefit or advantage, and then assume that the more of it there is the better--when this is often not the case. Put another way, most of us recognize that it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and yet we fail to appreciate just how often and where this principle applies. For instance, we recognize that having a certain amount of money greatly facilitates raising children (it being very difficult to raise a family in a state of poverty), and yet we fail to recognize that beyond a certain point wealth also makes parenting increasingly difficult (for it becomes harder and harder to instill qualities of hard-work and self-control). Or we recognize that small class sizes are a good thing, and yet we fail to recognize that classes can actually begin to suffer once they become too small (since diversity and energy begin to disappear).

    The second lesson to be learned here is that certain disadvantages can sometimes drive people into positions of advantage. Take the disadvantage of being born with a disability, for example. Say dyslexia. In our modern world, where the ability to read is extremely important--and practically a requirement for success--having great difficulty with reading is a major disadvantage. And indeed the statistics indicate that the vast majority of those who are born dyslexic end up falling through the cracks and missing out on success.

    Still, though, many dyslexics have gone on to become highly successful people; and it has also been noted that in certain fields (such as entrepreneurship) an inordinate proportion of the most successful individuals do, in fact, have dyslexia. So how can we explain these success stories? What we find in these cases is that these individuals have managed to compensate for their disability by developing skills that make up for their flaws (such as an improved memory or debating prowess). Thus, in a way, the successful dyslexic has actually benefited from his disability, because it has forced him into a position where he has had to develop other skills that have led him directly to success.

    Gladwell has done well to make us rethink the nature of advantages and disadvantages across many fields. The only major flaw in the book, in my view, is the third and final part. The theme of the part is that power becomes less effective (or even counter-productive) when it is wielded illegitimately. The problem with this argument is that it's a classic case of the straw-man: Gladwell has set up an opposition that is very easy to defeat, and then smashed it to pieces. What's worse is that the examples Gladwell uses to prove his point here are quite weak. Still, there is much of value in the first 2 parts of the book. A full executive summary of the book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, October 22; a podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014


    This book makes me feel like poop

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    A poor mishmash of stories, many unrelated to the title. I've re

    A poor mishmash of stories, many unrelated to the title. I've read better copies of Reader's Digest.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    Jesus Saves!

    Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Acts 16:31

    1 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2013

    Gladwell's 'David & Goliath' goes a long way to affirming on

    Gladwell's 'David & Goliath' goes a long way to affirming one of my treasured beliefs that "Not all difficulties measure up to Hardships". 'D & G' is time well spent.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2014


    Enjoyable, informative n thought provoking

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    David and Goliath was the first book I read by Malcolm Gladwell,

    David and Goliath was the first book I read by Malcolm Gladwell, and it was a treat. Being a senior in high school college is always a topic for discussion and more specifically whether you will be able to get into the school of specific desire. After reading David and Goliath and the examples presented by Gladwell through out the book, I felt as if I could conquer any feat. From dyslexic millionaires to finding life changing cures for illnesses Gladwell describes it all. However, the part I found the most interesting was Caroline Stack's and her college decision. To not give away the entire story, Gladwell basically establishes choosing the "right" college is not always the most prestigious, but rather the one that best fits the individual--a thought that was somewhat relieving to a high school senior.

    As the book progressed I found it to become a bit repetitive. After the first six chapters I had fully grasped Gladwell's idea of beating the odds when they are not in your favor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2014

    David Matthew's Bio

    NAME~ David Kenneth Matthews <br>AGE~ 17, birthday is August 3. <br>GENDER: ._. <br>Appearances: short black hair, often wild after flying. Gray eyes, shades change with mood. Dark stormy gray when angry, light gray when happy, etc. Skin is lightly tanned. Strong, athletic build, due to many forms of martial arts training. Usually wears gray tee-shirts, but sometimes is seen in black and various shades of blue, red or green. Always in blue jeans and either gray or tan hiking boots or gray sneakers. Wings are raven black and will shine with emerald green and dark violet hues in the sun, wingspan is 18 feet (I think. I'm not good at judging lengths/distances o.o). <br>PERSONALITY: friendly, fun-loving, kind, protective, funny, (other, get to know him.) <br>CRUSH: I keep crushes secret... <br>FRIENDS: Acea, Ornirah, Warren, <br>OTHER: parents are Kale and Brielle from the book 'Galdoni' by Cheree Alsop. :3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    To #6


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2014

    This is classic Gladwell story telling with bright insights.Behi

    This is classic Gladwell story telling with bright insights.Behind the wonderful stories is a deep analytical point about the upside-down
    U curve.
    Everyone should know about that curve that life throws at us. The upside down U refers to the fact that a little bit is often just right, but
    more than that is often too much for your own good.
    David being quite big was an advantage, but being as big as he was turned out to be a massive disadvantage (don't want to spoil it
    and tell you why.)
    I think this point about U curves holds for many things.
    In my e-book, the No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, for example, I argue that many of the good things that happened to the
    US food system during World War 11 were very positive. But as it turned out, pushing all those trends, such as mechanization
    and Big Science technologies, turned out to create major problems.
    Reading Gladwell's book gave me just the right phrase to explain a major theme of food history, So don't be deceived by the
    breezy style and great stories. There's a deep analysis behind it. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2014

    Definitely enjoyed it

    I enjoyed the various topics he covered although he did jump back and forth a lot. Some of the situations he explored were interesting to learn about. The ending could have had a better wrap-up. Instead it's just like the teacher said "Pencils down!".

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