Summary and book reviews of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point

How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference

by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2000, 279 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2001, 304 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

Looks at why major changes in our society so often happen suddenly and unexpectedly.

Why did crime in New York drop so suddenly in the mid-90s? How does an unknown novelist end up a bestselling author? Why is teenage smoking out of control, when everyone knows smoking kills? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? Why did Paul Revere succeed with his famous warning?

In this brilliant and groundbreaking book, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in our society so often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Ideas, behavior, messages, and products, he argues, often spread like outbreaks of infectious disease. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a few fare-beaters and graffiti artists fuel a subway crime wave, or a satisfied customer fill the empty tables of a new restaurant. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children's television, direct mail and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious, and visits a religious commune, a successful high-tech company, and one of the world's greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.

The Tipping Point is an intellectual adventure story written with an infectious enthusiasm for the power and joy of new ideas. Most of all, it is a road map to change, with a profoundly hopeful message--that one imaginative person applying a well-placed lever can move the world.

Chapter One
The Three Rules of Epidemics

In the mid-1990s, the city of Baltimore was attacked by an epidemic of syphilis. In the space of a year, from 1995 to 1996, the number of children born with the disease increased by 500 percent. If you look at Baltimore's syphilis rates on a graph, the line runs straight for years and then, when it hits 1995, rises almost at a right angle.

What caused Baltimore's syphilis problem to tip? According to the Centers for Disease Control, the problem was crack cocaine. Crack is known to cause a dramatic increase in the kind of risky sexual behavior that leads to the spread of things like HIV and syphilis. It brings far more people into poor areas to buy drugs, which then increases the likelihood that they will take an infection home with them to their own neighborhood. It changes the patterns of social connections between neighborhoods. Crack, the CDC said, was the little push that the syphilis problem needed to turn into a raging epidemic. ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

The Tipping Point is propelled by its author's voracious but always amiable curiosity...Gladwell has a knack for rendering complex theories in clear, elegant prose, and he makes a charismatic tour guide. As a result, the book's constant movement from one cultural realm to the next...never produces any literary motion sickness.

The New York Times Book Review - Alan Wolfe

[A] lively, timely and engaging study of fads.... The Tipping Point is worth reading just for what it tells us about how we try to make sense out of the world.

Business Week

...an imaginative...treatise that's likely...to generate some buzz...it's hard not to be persuaded by Gladwell's thesis. Not only does he assemble a fascinating mix of facts in support of his theory...but he also manages to weave everything into a cohesive explanation of human behavior. What's more, we appreciate the optimism of a theory that supports, as another pundit once called it, the power of one...there's little doubt that the material will keep you awake...

Publisher's Weekly

...a particular boon for businesspeople looking for inspiration...

Author Blurb Commissioner William J. Bratton
.. a vital and 'must read' addition to the on-going debate about what really causes crime and disorder and how best to deal with it.

Author Blurb George Stephanopoulos
Hip and hopeful, The Tipping Point, is like the idea it describes concise, elegant but packed with social power. A book for anyone who cares about how society works and how we can make it better.

Author Blurb Michael Lewis Author of Liar's Poker and The New New Thing
What someone once said about the great Edmund Wilson is as true of Malcolm Gladwell he gives ideas the quality of action. Here he's written a wonderful page turner about a fascinating idea that should effect the way every thinking person thinks about the world around him.

Reader Reviews

Dan C

Good Book
The book sets out to explain how certain events, both large and small, happen not necessarily by chance but by series of easily explainable smaller events that lead to a "Tipping Point." The tipping point can be defined as the moment in ...   Read More

Joshua Lim

The tipping Point
An informative read, full of exciting examples.

Mark_Bledsoe

Excellent Read
Takes you through the process where by trends reach the critical factor

Ricky

Great book!
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell explains how different epidemics happen such as sicknesses, fashion trends, crime, rumors, and smoking. Gladwell also explains all the different things that go into making an epidemic happen such as word of mouth...   Read More

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