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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts...
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...
Published 7 months ago by Reader Writer Runner

versus
3 of 3 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 6 months ago by S. J. Ruben


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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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25 of 29 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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3 of 3 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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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
By 
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
By 
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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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed reasoning skills detract from interesting stories about underdogs, Oct. 7 2013
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - 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 have read and reviewed all of Malcolm Gladwell's previous books and consider him to be among the most talented and energetic of journalists, with most of his work featured in The New Yorker. He also has superb storyteller skills. His "discoveries" tend to be well-known to those knowledgeable about the given subject. In The Tipping Point, for example, he discusses a phenomenon previous characterized by Michael Kami as a "trigger point" and later by Andrew Grove as an "inflection point." Or consider "the secret of success" that he discusses in The Outliers. For decades, Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have been conducting research on peak performance. He duly acknowledges sources such as Ericsson and should be praised for attracting greater attention to the subjects he discusses. That is Gladwell's great value.

However, in his latest book, David and Goliath, he demonstrates faulty reasoning, such as what Christopher Chabris characterizes as "the fallacy of the unexamined premise." He also has problems with causal relationships and this is not the first time that Gladwell confuses "because" with "despite." For example, consider his assertion that attorney David Boies's great success is largely explained by the fact that he is dyslexic. Overcoming learning disabilities may have been - for Boies as well as countless others -- what Warren Bennis and David Thomas characterize as a "crucible" that strengthens and enlightens those who emerge from it.

In this context, I am reminded of the fact that one of the world's most renowned authorities on ADHD, Edward ("Ned") Hallowell, is an author of countless books and articles on the subject, a child and adult psychiatrist, and a New York Times bestselling author. Also, he is a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Medical School as well as the founder of The Hallowell Centers in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and New York City. Are these great achievements because or despite the fact that Hallowell is ADHD?

In his latest book, Gladwell relies too heavily on insufficient evidence or, worst yet, only on evidence that supports his premise. Yes, peak performers such as Boies, Richard Branson, Brian Glazer, David Neeleman, and Charles Schwab overcame severe learning disabilities and yes, 12 of 44 U.S. Presidents (including the first and the current) lost their father at an early age. There is no shortage of examples of women as well as men who have a "story of success" despite all manner of physical, social, and/or economic limitations.

Gladwell is at his best when sharing what he has learned after exploring subjects of special interest to him. As indicated, I admire his skills as a journalist and storyteller. What I view as his defective reasoning skills detract from the presentation of some (not all) if the material in David and Goliath, hence the Four Star rating.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offers a lot of inspiration for overcoming, Nov. 22 2013
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (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)
This latest literary offering of Gladwell challenges the reader to take a second look at situations before accepting the inevitable. Counter-intuitiveness or going against the norm is the guiding principle proclaimed in this collection of personal testimonies about people who dared to think outside the box in typical David vs. Goliath situations. When facing a dire health issue, or an infinitely stronger opponent, or a lack of resources to stave off disaster, or just plain down on one's luck there is a natural tendency for many of us to flee rather than fight and overcome. To challenge that disposition of cowardly despair in the midst of impossible odds, Gladwell has us revisit the biblical tale of David and Goliath on a couple of different levels. Each one points out that fear of an opponent or obstacle is often baseless when seen in the light of reality and relativeness. Goliath, as that indomitable giant, really was a weakling ready to be knocked down to size through the ingenious resourcefulness of a shepherd boy trusting in his sling and God. Everything about this story goes against conventional thinking, which is where Gladwell believes more of us should find ourselves when in trouble: turning a problem into a solution by going where no-one else has gone before. In the subsequent chapters, the reader is introduced to a photographer, a cancer specialist, a lawyer, and a human-rights activist who overcame daunting challenges - some personal, others environmental - by learning to stand up to seemingly impossible odds. Each had to overcome a fear that they would be defeated in their quest to overcome a learning disability, or a violent temper, or limited support for a cause. As Gladwell shows, big and powerful does not always win the day. These stories are inspirational in how they follow through to that moment of triumph when an unique strategy turns the problem on its head and makes believers out of skeptics. Timing and creativity are everything when it comes to making a little bit of sustaining love overcome a whole pile of destructive power.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So so effort, Oct. 23 2013
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bookweasel (Calgary AB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
After Gladwell's earlier books I looked forward to this one. I was disappointed. The anecdotes are interesting as is the premise but it leads nowhere. A few isolated tales do not make the basis of any sort of theory. The tales are interesting in themselves but the back end of the book disappoints and lacks the penetrating insight Gladwell usually shows.

A best seller despite itself.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed., June 1 2014
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This review is from: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Hardcover)
I have always loved Malcolm Gladwell's books, have read Blink, Outliers & portions of Tipping Point. (Lost my copy on a trip to US). Had wonderful insights as a result of this book, & felt so excited to recommend it to others, except the ending was so pathetic, that it ruined the book for me. Feel I can not recommend it at all. Felt there was no reason for ending it that way, no point to be made.
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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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