Book Review: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell


Did you ever read something in a magazine  and think, “Wow!  That was well put.  He really hit the nail on the head,” and  check who wrote  the article?

I had read a New Yorker  article and found Gladwell’s writing compelling.  It  was reading reviews of his other books:  Blink!:  the  Power of Thinking Without Thinking, and The Tipping Point, which got  me interested in Gladwell’s other writing.

I was an anthropology major several decades ago, and  what got me  interested in anthropology was my interest in how people made decisions.  For people who are interested in  marketing, advertising, or social change, you have to read The Tipping Point.

As for Blink!, people often ask me  how I can groom a dog so quickly, or how I can tell  whether a dog is show quality, or if a dog  is  stressed, and , well, you have read Blink! to understand  what dog people know.  Also,  when people tell me they want to learn to groom dogs, but can only learn part time,  I tell them they can’t, and Outliers addresses why that is so.

I picked up Outliers at just the right time.  He has subtitled the book, The Story of Success, but it is much more than that.  It is about  how people learn, and why understanding how they learn, and how they communicate, matters.

His  chapter 6, “Harlan, Kentucky” and chapter 7, “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes”, are absolute must reads for anyone interested in culture and communication.  In fact, I was interested in  doing consulting for  a group that promoted education policy in Africa, and I mentioned to  one of the  group’s employees how socially stratified much of Africa is.  I might have seemed imperialist, but these 2 chapters really address why  educational reform has NOT occurred in Africa.

Now, what’s interesting to me…when I go into a bookstore, sometimes Gladwell’s books are in the business section, sometimes they are under psychology, and sometimes they are under sociology.  They are in print.  He’s easy to read, and he documents  what he writes.

I often tell people that getting a job is a matter of luck, who you know, being in the right place at the right time.  Only sometimes, being better than  anyone else at a particular skill matters.

Gladwell addresses all the factors that lead to success. This book is definitely worth checking out.

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One Response to “Book Review: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell”

  1. pmoyo Says:

    I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books. I read Tipping Point first for a class and loved it. I also really enjoyed Outliers.

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