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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants Hardcover – 3 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (3 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846145813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846145810
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,846 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.

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Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By boggisbitesvampires on 25 May 2014
Format: Paperback
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Akshay A. Rangnekar on 21 Dec 2013
Format: Hardcover
I love reading Malcolm Gladwell books. He's an incredibly compelling writer, and this book is no different. It's an interesting and thought-provoking book. However, as with some of his previous writings, it completely lacks the rigour to be taken seriously. In virtually every chapter he states a non-obvious point, but then tells a single, non-representative story to back it up. Which is great for helping you understand what he's saying, but certainly not enough if you're thinking critically to believe it.
Overall, if you're looking for a fun read buy this book, but if you're looking to learn the "art of battling giants", this isn't going to do it. And since that's part of the title, this book only earns 2-stars.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By MarkT on 5 Nov 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Avid crime reader on 5 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
I could forgive Gladwell his sweeping generalisations, backed up in some cases by no evidence whatsoever, up until the chapter about the conflict in Northern Ireland. I was appalled to see a respected writer give such a one sided and misleading account of a very complex and destructive situation (on BOTH sides!). Either his research was seriously flawed or he chose to ignore the more inconvenient facts in order, ironically, to legitimise his theory about legitimacy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Me on 31 May 2014
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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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Oct 2013
Format: 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.
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