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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Hardcover – Oct 1 2013


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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants + Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking + Outliers: The Story of Success
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First edition (Oct. 1 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316204366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316204361
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Truly intriguing and inspiring, especially when Gladwell discusses 'desirable difficulties'....Gladwell's account of the journey of Dr. Emil 'Jay' Freireich is unforgettable." ---Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

"Provocative....David and Goliath is a lean, consuming read....The book's most crafty, engaging chapter ties together the Impressionist movement and college choices to highlight the fact that gaining admission to elite institutions, which we typically perceive as an advantage, is no guarantee of success." ---John Wilwol, San Francisco Chronicle

"As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking....I've long admired Gladwell's work." ---Joe Nocera, New York Times

"David and Goliath readers will travel with colorful characters who overcame great difficulties and learn fascinating facts about the Battle of Britain, cancer medicine and the struggle for civil rights, to name just a few topics upon which Mr. Gladwell's wide-ranging narrative touches. This is an entertaining book." ---Christopher F. Chabris, Wall Street Journal

"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 sells books by the millions because he is masterful at explaining how the world works---the power of critical mass, the arbitrariness of success, etc.---packaging his ideas in fun, accessible, and poignant vignettes." ---Lionel Beehner, USA Today

"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

"The bestselling author behind the inventive Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point is back with another thought provoking theory that fascinates, entertains, and informs. He gives underdogs their due this time, challenging everything readers believe about facing-and conquering-life's stumbling blocks, using the 'real' story of David and Goliath and more to make his point." ---Celeste Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"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

"The 50-year-old Canadian is a superstar, the most popular staff writer on The New Yorker and a hero in the frequent-flier lounge where journalism, social science, business management, and self-help hang out....It's a good story and he's got plenty more." ---Jeff Baker, The Oregonian

"Pop culture pundit Malcolm Gladwell is an idea blender, mixing concepts from vastly different sources (everything from business to science to the Bible) to produce new ways of seeing the world." ---Barbara O'Dair, Reader's Digest

"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

About 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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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER#1 HALL OF FAME on Oct. 5 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book begins with the classic tale of David versus Goliath. Traditionally interpreted as courage triumphing over great odds, Gladwell shows that this actually wasn't the case. Instead, it was in all likelihood Goliath who was in trouble. As anyone who's played Total War games knows, archers beat infantry and David was an archer with his sling. If he missed, he could just outrun Goliath, turn around and shoot again. Rinse and repeat until Goliath is dead. The huge, mighty, fearsome fighter Goliath was deadly, but there as a limit to his power. Which is essentially the theme of this book. Power, and in particular negative power, has limitations.

In particular Gladwell dwells on the counter-intuitive "inverted U" that underlies a lot of relationships. For example, adding punishment decreases crime, but is there a point at which applying too much punishment increases crime? Or being bombed is bad, but being nearly bombed can actually bolster one's moral as you realize you can survive something awful. Having smaller classes is good, but at some point smaller classes become worse for education. Going to an Ivy league school is good for some, but many more would benefit from not going to a top-level school. Gladwell also discusses how difficulties and challenges generate opportunities for some individuals to flourish. The harsh reality of losing a parent makes a minority of children even stronger, or at least more successful, than if they had never lost a parent.

This counter-intuitive kind of thinking is classic Gladwell, and it makes for an interesting yet informative read. There are a couple of issues I have with the book. First, there's more anecdotes and less science than in his previous books.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 22 2013
Format: Hardcover
I always look forward to a new book by Malcolm Gladwell; he consistently provides readers with awe-inspiring stories, profound insights and provocative ideas. Though some chapters piqued my interest more than others, overall "David and Goliath" successfully engages with its meditations on the archetypal battle between underdogs and top dogs.

Gladwell begins with a recap of the legendary tale of David and Golliath, introducing his main theme: some perceived disadvantages have unsung advantages while perceived advantages encompass overlooked disadvantages. An early chapter about a gritty middle school girl's basketball team contains intimations of a self-help manual but, when the author moves to an explanation of why being a being a big fish in a small pond predicts high achievement better than being a little fish in a big pond, it becomes clear that Gladwell's interest extends beyond simple templates for success.

The book probes into the nature of the underdog and tells the stories of fascinating and amazingly accomplished people: lawyer David Boies, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad and leukaemia researcher Jay Freireich to name a few. It shows that stereotypical handicaps like learning disabilities and deprived childhoods can require a person to adapt to the world in ways that later give him/her the upper hand in professional life. Contrarily, those who have sailed through childhood enjoying every good fortune often become less well-equipped to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Chardenet on Aug. 19 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell and his way of digging deeper into the data to find correlations so many of us miss. This book shows us how bigger is not always better, esp. if you have an opponent who's smart enough to detect your weaknesses. The Bible story of David & Goliath is not nearly as impressive when Gladwell explains how warfare worked back then, and you realize that it was customary for the missile-slingers to go after the heavily-armoured and armed soldiers like Goliath. There's another great chapter on how getting in the best school isn't always best for the student; and how the inverted U-curve demonstrates that there's point where classroom sizes are too small, and where they're too large; kids are best served in the classrooms in-between, regardless of how fancy and financed the "better" schools with much smaller classrooms are.

I never get tired of Malcolm Gladwell.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Ruben on Dec 30 2013
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing worse than seeing a live performance of your favorite recording artist and sensing that the magic is in the past.

This book's premise could have been fully explored in a 30 page article. I believe that Mr. Gladwell needed to write this book to fulfill contractual obligations rather than because he was overly inspired by the subject matter. It happens.

It was not tightly written nor particularly well reasoned. There was much repetition, seemingly to fill space. It reads like a second draft.

I loved Outliers and was therefore hoping that the thesis articulated in the story of David and Goliath would be deeply and richly explored. I was disappointed and half way through, I considered putting it down. I didn't; hoping that my trust in the author would be redeemed. Not this time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike on Dec 8 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book presented interesting anecdotal ideas but I was left wanting more details on how to apply the ideas. As well, the book mostly lacked data evidence for the ideas presented.

For the price of the book, I wanted a bit more. In particular, how often does David defeat Goliath in the real (modern) world?
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