David and Goliath: Book summary and reviews of David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath

Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

By Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2013,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

Malcolm Gladwell, the #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative---and dazzling---book yet.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell 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.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath 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.

In the tradition of Gladwell's previous bestsellers---The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw---David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The notion that a rule holds true except for when it doesn't runs through David and Goliath, and insulates its arguments from deep interrogation. Is it really advantageous to have severe dyslexia? Yes, and certainly not. Are children better off without their parents? Don't be silly, but it could be so. These non-answers rub the dazzle from Gladwell's clever thesis statements, until they all begin to look like dullish intuition." - Slate

"One thing David and Goliath shows is that Mr. Gladwell has not changed his own strategy, despite serious criticism of his prior work. What he presents are mostly just intriguing possibilities and musings about human behavior, but what his publisher sells them as, and what his readers may incorrectly take them for, are lawful, causal rules that explain how the world really works. Mr. Gladwell should acknowledge when he is speculating or working with thin evidentiary soup. Yet far from abandoning his hand or even standing pat, Mr. Gladwell has doubled down. This will surely bring more success to a Goliath of nonfiction writing, but not to his readers." - Wall Street Journal

"Malcolm Gladwell has long traded in paradox. The paradoxes of his two previous bestselling theses – Blink and Outliers – included the fact that they almost exactly contradicted each other: one was a hymn to the power of instinctive thought; the other a paean to the overwhelming importance of long and dedicated study. What they shared was the author's lucrative obsession with the counterintuitive. Gladwell is most attracted to stories in which individual insight (either from a painstaking outlier, or a eureka-moment blinker) overturns received wisdom – stories which generally have the useful subtext of burnishing his own reputation for intellectual surprise, for pulling the zeitgeist out of the hat.... [the ideas are not], if you stop and think, so surprising. The great pleasure of it is having Gladwell do the stopping and thinking for you." - The Guardian

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Author Information

Malcolm Gladwell Author Biography

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. His 1999 profile of Ron Popeil won a National Magazine Award, and in 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, (2000) and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), both of which were number one New York Times bestsellers; as well as Outliers (2008) and What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009).

From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in ...

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