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Outliers: The Story of Sucess [Paperback]

Malcolm Gladwell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Nov 2008
A brilliant new book from the bestselling author of The Tipping Point and Blink Why are people successful? For centuries, humankind has grappled with this question, searching for the secret to accomplishing great things. In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an invigorating intellectual journey to show us what makes an extreme overachiever. He reveals that we pay far too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where successful people are from: their culture, their family, and their generation. Gladwell examines how the careers of Bill Gates and the performance of world-class football players are alike; what top fighter pilots and The Beatles have in common; why so many top lawyers are Jewish; why Asians are good at maths; and why it is correct to say that the mathematician who solved Fermat's Theorem is not a genius. Just as he did in Blink, Gladwell overturns many of our conventional notions and creates an entirely new model for seeing the world. Brilliant and entertaining, this is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.


Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK; Open Market ed edition (24 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141036249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141036243
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 274,705 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

'You will never again think as you did before about [success] ... This book deserves the gold star that adorns its front cover.' --A. C. Grayling, The Times

'Gladwell deploys a wealth of fascinating data and information to illustrate his thesis ... Outliers challenges accepted wisdom.' --Times

Review

'Gladwell deploys a wealth of fascinating data and information to illustrate his thesis ... Outliers challenges accepted wisdom.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy, but don't plan your life on it 10 July 2013
Format:Paperback
Outlier is a term used in statistics for a data point that stands out from the rest of the sample and this book is about the outliers of success. Near the beginning of the book the author says "... there is something profoundly wrong with the way we make sense of success." There is always more to success than the magical, in-built brilliance of the successful and that is being at the right place, at the right time, having the right background, having the right mix of talents and being prepared to work hard with those talents.

This book is a series of anecdotal articles on success with some interesting insights. It is not a rigorous analysis and it has not found a new Law of Success.

If you are a young little league Canadian hockey player and you are good at the game make sure that your birthday comes just after the cut-off point of the annual selection date. That way you will be one of the oldest in the next year's selection. If you are a talented musician, work very very hard at your craft. If you were a New York lawyer make sure that you graduate when the type of business skills required is changing so that you can get in before the old established firms have time to come to terms with the new world. If you are interested in computer programming be of an age when mainframes make way for time-sharing machines so that you can get direct, un-mediated experience. If you are going to be clever, do not have an IQ off the scale but just a very good one and balance it with a good emotional; and social intelligence.

Halfway through the book the author says: "Can we learn something about why people succeed and how to make people better at what they do by taking cultural legacies seriously?
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Read 28 Dec 2008
By NeilC VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I'm a fan of Malcolm Gladwell having read his previous Blink and The Tipping Point. All his books are about interesting topics and are told in a way that keeps the reader engaged. Similarly to the other books the criticism can always be made that he makes about 4-5 valid points and stretches them out to a full book but when the writing is engaging and takes you on a journey it doesn't really matter.

The book itself takes you through what drives success. Arguing that it's a combination of intelligence (both IQ and emotional intelligence), luck (opportunties and timing), cultural context and hard work (the much-reported 10,000 hours). All this could be argued to be fairly obvious but through the examples and anecdotes Gladwell dispelled many myths at the same time as entertaining.

All-in-all a good read.
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462 of 524 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Outlandish 17 Dec 2008
Format:Hardcover
A criticism common to both Malcolm Gladwell's previous books, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, was that while they were packed with interesting, well told, anecdotes there was no consistent underlying theme to the stories; no particular lesson to be drawn. For example, of the many anecdotes recounted about "thin slicing" some (such as an art expert's ability to instantly assess the bona fides of a statue) suggested it was a special and important skill while others (an impulsive police decision to pursue and shoot dead a innocent bystander) suggested quite the opposite. You were left with the impression that, well, there are these things called snap judgements, and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don't.

Clearly Malcolm Gladwell has taken those reservations to heart: in Outliers he has been scrupulous to sketch out an integrated underlying thesis and then (for the most part) array his anecdotes - which, as usual, are interesting enough - in support of it.

Unfortunately for him, the theory is a lemon. Nonetheless, the flyleaf is hubristic (and unimaginative) enough to claim "This book really will change the way you think about your life". It's not done that for me, but it has changed the way I think about Malcolm Gladwell's writing. And not for the better.

Gladwell has looked at some psychological research into success and genius and has concluded that, contrary to conventional wisdom, success isn't to be explained by raw talent.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very pretty. But, can it fight? 7 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
Perhaps the main problem with the book is its use of the word 'outliers' to refer to exceptional people, individuals who achieve so much more than others. It should instead refer to the exceptional circumstances that allowed them their meteoric rise to success. These factors - such as year and era of birth, family background, race and place of education - contain the quirks of fate that allow the merely talented to achieve the successes that lie so far outside the norm. This is Gladwell's major thesis.

Gladwell's target is the traditional American story of success: rugged individuals, by dint of hard work and raw talent - perspiration and inspiration - achieve those magnificent success levels that elude others. Instead, Gladwell wants to show the place of circumstances and situation in this story. He wants to give success a context beyond that of one man and his willpower. Fair enough.

In order to do this, Gladwell tells some stories of his own. Lots of them, in fact. The book is one, big collection of counter-cultural stories about the nature of specifically American success. By 'counter-cultural' I mean contrary to the 'rugged individual' myth described above. This story-method is Gladwell's greatest strength or weakness, depending of what you're looking for. Me, I wanted to read something fascinating, provocative, and launch-pad like. That's exactly what I got.

Most of Gladwell's detractors find his method of extreme induction - "Here's one case so that means there's a pattern" - infuriating. I find in fun. When I read a Gladwell book, I'm not on the lookout for rigorous sampling methods or objective self-criticism. Let's leave that to university textbooks, can't we? Gladwell does pop journalism with ideas and trends.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Each example of the background of an outlier was fascinating. Gladwell has dug deep and shows that preparedness, hard work and opportunity lies behind most success.
Published 13 days ago by masa2@stir.ac.uk
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
A step back from the focus on personality and a humbling examination of the role of culture, chance and kindness in the making of those who achieve great things. Read more
Published 22 days ago by el-suri
5.0 out of 5 stars So interesting, reading it now!
I downloaded the book. . .first ever! Enjoying reading on the kindle. Only came across Gladwell recently but interesting guy!
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Kimberly A. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars simple but powerful
Why do some people achieve great things? It's not all to do with talent, there are so many other factors that make this possible. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Harj
5.0 out of 5 stars The true story of success
It is a well written book inclusive of proven researched issues. It is also an easy read with glaring examples of points to clarify all issues made. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emile C.Carr
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
An amazingly interesting book. I have so far read both The Tipping Point and What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell and cannot wait to read his others.
Published 1 month ago by Ella Maule
4.0 out of 5 stars good factual book....
.....based on research and facts about why people are successful. The facts endorse that it is circumstances taht make you succesfull...
Published 1 month ago by vimalm
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent read
This book was well written with good examples and ideas. I enjoyed the way the author discussed the various cultures and their histories, giving the reader an insight into the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by A Londoner
3.0 out of 5 stars okay read
It is an okay read, but the ‘great’ insights are based on a slightly more contextual reading of the various phenomena. Slightly repetitive.
Published 1 month ago by Gaffa Limited
1.0 out of 5 stars All success is luck apparently....epic fail.
He explains why every success in the world is just luck and chance.

Bill Gates is Richest man in the world because of the year he was born and because he had access to a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by WDavidC
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