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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and educating book
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...
Published 11 months ago by A. Volk

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Abook that need rather than wanted to be written
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...
Published 8 months ago by S. J. Ruben


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Abook that need rather than wanted to be written, Dec 30 2013
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (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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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and educating book, Oct. 5 2013
By 
A. Volk (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
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. Second, while he mentions it, he generally glosses over the reality that for most children, hardships cause more harm than good. Even if some diamonds emerge from that pressure, it's a costly path to success (which is why it can generate tough survivors who flourish later in life). For every business tycoon who comes from a rough start, there's a whole lot more kids who weren't able to get past that rough start and end up staying in rough shape for life. Those issues aside, this remains a good book. It's well-written and easy to get through. There are some footnotes that get in the way, and there's actually quite a lot of good information in the appendixes that I wish made it into the text. But it's up to the reader how much they want to pay attention to these items, so they don't necessarily take away from the reading experience. There's a lot of interesting lessons to take away from this book. Perhaps my favorite one is how to successfully coach a "different" basketball team. When I read about it, it immediately struck me as obvious in hindsight, but again, that's the joy of this book and Gladwell in particular. Making the hidden obvious is his specialty, which makes it obvious to me that this is a good book worth recommending. 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Nov. 22 2013
By 
Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating as usual, Aug. 19 2014
By 
Nicole Chardenet "HumourFicChick" (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grreat Book!, Feb. 18 2014
This is an interesting book. I did think that Gladwell might be stretching the analogy a bit too much in some areas. However, overall, well worth reading and offers a different way to evaluate the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always interesting and insightful!, Feb. 12 2014
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Jenifer Mohammed, Author of Resurrecting Cybe... (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This is an interesting book. I did feel that Gladwell might be stretching his analogy a bit too much in some areas to make his arguments fit his thesis. However, overall, I appreciate the different perspectives he offered on how to evaluate the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good read, Jan. 26 2014
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Shail Paliwal (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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Started out strong, then the analogies and reference stories became repetitive. Good lessons on not to underestimate the David's of this world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Challenge your thinking!, Sept. 8 2014
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
Gladwell is an easy to read author, and very thoughtful about life in the book. It enables the reader to challenge the standard conceptions that dominate life in a very interesting way. As I found success in my life I knew that there was more to my attitude than just being curious and detail oriented. Gladwell educates uses stories to help the the reader to understand the basis of causality and suggest a new viewpoint on assessing situations. This is a great read!
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3.0 out of 5 stars This one was disappointing as I felt like I was reading a texbook for some university course, Sept. 7 2014
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Have not read any of Malcolm Gladwell's other novels. This one was disappointing as I felt like I was reading a texbook for some university course. I kept reading to the end to see how he was going to tie all the loose ends together and was disappointed that this did not happen. This book was just chapters documenting the underdogs stories and how they overcame it. I did learn a few facts that I could have found on Wikipedia or Google if I was interested enough.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it., Aug. 13 2014
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
I've always enjoyed reading Gladwell's books. This one, however, seems to be a compilation of published articles, a bit as if he thought he could grab some extra money by recycling them. They do fit together though, but the book somehow doesn't seem finished. I kept waiting for him to tie everything together at the end in typical Gladwell style, but somehow it never happened. I felt cheated a bit. I'll have to reread it and see if I missed something.
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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (Hardcover - Oct. 1 2013)
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