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David and Goliath

Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Gladwell, Malcolm, 1963-

(Book - 2013)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
David and Goliath
This book uncovers the hidden rules that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty and the powerful and the dispossessed. In it the author challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks. He begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy (David and Goliath) those many years ago. From there, the book examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms, all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity. -- From book jacket.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2013
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316204361
Branch Call Number: 155.24 G
Characteristics: ix, 305 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


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Nov 03, 2014
  • duane767 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Started off slow and plodding for me but really picked up halfway through the book with some very poignant observations and lessons.

Sep 25, 2014
  • skidrick rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Not as strong as some of his other work...aside from college selection, his arguments stretch a little thin

Aug 21, 2014
  • DigitalDiva rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Malcolm Gladwell is a master at presenting a myriad of topics such as ivy-league schools, dyslexia, and small classroom size and convincing you to think differently. Because I've read this book, I do think differently and therefore parent my kids with a wider vision.

Aug 07, 2014
  • natalieruhl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book. It changed my perspective on the word "smart" and allowed me to see that intellect is relative. I really enjoyed the focus on the African American Civil Rights movement. A worthwhile read!

May 31, 2014
  • writermala rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

If I thought this was going to be an elaboration of the David and Goliath story I was mistaken. It was much more than that. Gladwell uses the story as a stating point to prove his premise that the "underdog" can oftentimes be the "Favourite." He uses examples of a School Basketball coach, the Civil Rights Movement, the conflict in Northern Ireland, an Oncologist, a couple of dyslexia sufferers, all to prove that adversity can be overcome and in fact used to achieve remarkable results. I was hooked right from Chapter 1, and stayed tuned till the very end. I agree with the author that "The powerful are not as powerful as they seem - nor the weak as weak."

May 27, 2014
  • scrubble4 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoy Gladwell's writing style. I did not find this book as tightly woven in its thinking as some of his previous books. Still, even when more quirky than representative of a situation, I found his thinking interesting. He means to nudge us outside our normal explanations for why things happen or how to interpret them. I think he succeeds again, although as some other commentators observed maybe not as completely as in previous books. Anything that makes me take a step back to examine my taken for granted assumptions has value to me.

Apr 24, 2014
  • kozemchuk rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

This is the first Gladwell book I've read and it will also be my last. It's largest failing is that he tries to synthesize a thesis out of examples that are so broad in scope they hardly have anything in common. The book could have benefited from a more cohesive set of case studies.

Secondly, expectedly, his politics are superficial. He talks about the Troubles in Northern Ireland while failing to state that the British are colonizers and occupiers, taking the meaning out of the struggle. I appreciated his critique of the Three Strikes law, but he fails to talk about the other causes of crime (besides the severity of sentencing).

A much better and more interesting book is Scott's "Domination and the Arts of Resistance." It's more coherent, more insightful, and more inspiring.

Mar 13, 2014
  • GLNovak rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I was looking forward to reading this new book of Gladwell's, but found it to be less successful than his others. He is an engaging writer with a good flow that carries you nicely through his reasoning. That said, I felt he was reaching a bit at times. What he does best is getting you to think outside the box, to question why and maybe also why. Once you start thinking this way you sometimes have new and surprising insights. Pop psychology/sociology applied to life situations is always interesting, and because of that, Gladwell will always have an audience. Love his name, too - so upbeat.

Jan 23, 2014
  • lmcshane rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

StarGladiator - I would agree - while the book takes case examples and tries to make a strategy to change up power structures - it is too cursory. I was particularly disturbed and confused about the correlations drawn in chapter on dyslexia, David Boies and Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn.

Jan 18, 2014
  • StarGladiator rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

Warning: Malcolm does it again! I would urge anyone, either before or after reading this book, to do some serious research on lawyer David Boies (who lost big against Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Ted Olson in "Bush v. Gore", where the Supreme Court held that the right of Americans to vote was unconstitutional) and IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad (do a survey of Swedish newspapers/magazines and Kamprad's old Nazi connections). My opinion is that Gladwell is an unlicensed pop sociologist whose serious research is lacking.

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