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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants [Hardcover]

Malcolm Gladwell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Oct 2013

David and Goliath is the dazzling and provocative new book from Malcolm Gladwell, no.1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw

Why do underdogs succeed so much more than we expect? How do the weak outsmart the strong? In David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a scintillating and surprising journey through the hidden dynamics that shape the balance of power between the small and the mighty.

From the conflicts in Northern Ireland through the tactics of civil rights leaders and the problem of privilege, Gladwell demonstrates how we misunderstand the true meaning of advantage and disadvantage. When does a traumatic childhood work in someone's favour? How can a disability leave someone better off? And do you really want your child to go to the best school he or she can get into?

David and Goliath draws on the stories of remarkable underdogs, history, science, psychology and on Malcolm Gladwell's unparalleled ability to make the connections others miss. It's a brilliant, illuminating book that overturns conventional thinking about power and advantage.

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What The Dog Saw.

'A global phenomenon... there is, it seems, no subject over which he cannot scatter some magic dust' Observer

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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants + What the Dog Saw: and other adventures + The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (3 Oct 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846145813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846145810
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. 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), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) and most recently, Outliers (2008) all three of which were number one New York Times bestsellers.

Product Description


When you read it, you feel like you can topple giants (Jon Ronson)

I devoured it in a single reading, being a Gladwell addict for many years (Richard E. Grant)

His most accessible book ... A Scheherazade for our time, talking to keep us going and make us think (Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph)

His best yet ... intoxicating, powerful ... more socially and morally engaged than his previous work (Oliver Burkeman Guardian)

A pleasure (Tim Adams Observer)

Lovely ... as with most of Gladwell's books he had me at hello - the initial thesis is simply irresistible (Leah McLaren Globe and Mail)

Truly intriguing and inspiring ... unforgettable (Hector Tobar Los Angeles Times)

As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking ... I've long admired Gladwell's work (Joe Nocera The New York Times)

Fascinating ... Gladwell is a master of synthesis. This perennially bestselling author prides himself on radical re-thinking and urges the rest of us to follow suit (Heller McAlpin Washington Post)

David and Goliath readers will travel with colorful characters who overcame great difficulties and learn fascinating facts about the Battle of Britain, cancer medicine and the struggle for civil rights, to name just a few topics upon which Mr. Gladwell's wide-ranging narrative touches. This is an entertaining book (Christopher F. Chabris Wall Street Journal)

What propels the book, like all of Gladwell's writing, is his intoxicating brand of storytelling. He is the master of mixing familiar elements with surprise counter-intuitions, and then seasoning with a sprinkling of scientific evidence ... Gladwell is a master craftsman, an outlier amongst authors (Rob Brooks Huffington Post)

Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath, an energetic, counterintuitive exploration of why (and how) underdogs succeed, and how disabilities, traumatic childhoods, and other seeming lacks can sometimes trump power (Guardian, Books of the Year 2013)

About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What The Dog Saw.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite pull it off 25 May 2014
Gladwell has a formula: he picks a grand thesis - in this case that what are ordinarily perceived of as disadvantages might not be wholly negative - and then carefully arranges around it anecdotes of such simple humanity that one is forced, between dabbing the tears away and spontaneous rounds of applause, to swallow the damn thing whole.

There's a circle of scientific hell set aside for those who build their theses from anecdotes and artfully chosen evidence. However, people love anecdotes and when skilfully done it can bamboozle the critical faculties of the audience like a well rehearsed magic trick. The problem is, in David and Goliath, the patter seems a bit more forced, Gladwell fluffs the shuffle and we can, quite clearly, see a dove's head poking out of his sleeve and cooing insistently.

The anecdotes drag out a bit too long, to the extent that you start to wonder not only what the point is, but whether there's a point at all. Sometimes the point is separated so distantly from the anecdote that a quick flick back through the book is necessary. When that happens, the author has lost control and the effect falls to pieces. Gladwell relies so heavily on effect rather than a coherent argument that if we don't buy into it completely, we don't buy into it at all.

That's not to say that there's nothing in the book worth reading. There are some excellent paradoxical nuggets of insight and he still has a knack for taking something familiar - like the story of David and Goliath, which opens the book - and giving you a whole new way of looking at it. He also has a collection of stories about people that are fascinating in their own right.

So, yes, there are high points scattered through the book, but the whole seems half finished as if he didn't have the time to properly gather his thoughts together before committing them to the printer.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts 5 Nov 2013
By MarkT
There is no doubt that Gladwell is an entertaining writer and parts of this book are fun to read. However, as with "Tipping Point" I got half way through and thought this is repeating the same fairly obvious point again and again. I was also put off by his very one sided account of the early days of the Northern Ireland troubles. Some of what he says is true, some statements are sweeping without a shred of evidence, and the whole piece needs to be put into a proper historical context - otherwise it could be misleading, particularly to an American audience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gladwell writes as well as ever and the chapters offer really engaging vignettes - and it's very enjoyable reading.

As to the content of course it's memorable. In playing sport adapt tour strategy to your skills. Remember class sizes can be too small as well as too large. Remember it can be much better for you to be a big fish at a second tier university than just to squeak in to a top one...some chapters have less of a takeaway. We won't any of us be using prams to take in supplies to a town under curfew by the British army; or interpreting or misinterpreting the testimony of captured Vietnam Cong in the Vietnam war.

Sometimes the story touches on larger themes explored more scientifically by others. The dyslexic story on Thinking Fast And Slow. The story about three strikes and you're out on The Better Angels Of Our Nature. This points to the limits of this book.

But it's still a great read.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good start that fades away over time 31 May 2014
By Me
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the third book I read by Gladwell. The first few chapters were really interesting and moving. But when he started talking about Belfast and France in the Second World War, the examples don't prove anything. Sorry only 3 stars .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A study about asymmetries
This book is about asymmetry. Goliath may not be as big and strong as he appears. And David may not be as small and puny as he appears. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Dr. Nicholas P. G. Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful ! I'm trully grateful for having read this book
Such a beautiful, captivating and hopeful book. Seeing the world through David's eyes is a marvelous perspective that should captivate you from start to finish. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Alejandra Baron Cordido
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
A book which has been on my wish list for quite some time. Finally got round to reading it and absolutely loved it, despite the genre being different to my usual reads. Read more
Published 10 days ago by RLL
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 12 days ago by Brian Grant
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 12 days ago by Mrs. B C Murrill
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I love Malcolm Gladwell books, and this didn't disappoint at all, gripping, interesting and very thought provoking. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Anneka Pycroft
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenge what you believe!
A good read - certainly worth the investment. Made me challenge the way I look at 'the norm'.
Published 17 days ago by @sam
3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining essay ruined by being dragged out into a book
As with all of Gladwell's books, this is a reasonably good page turner as he knows all too well that anecdotal stories are entertaining. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Liam
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 18 days ago by Martin Andersen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great book from Malcom
Published 20 days ago by israel oluyomi
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