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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference [Paperback]

Malcolm Gladwell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Feb 2002
THE TIPPING POINT is the biography of an idea, and the idea is quite simple. It is that many of the problems we face - from crime to teenage delinquency to traffic jams - behave like epidemics. They aren't linear phenomena in the sense that they steadily and predictably change according to the level of effort brought to bear against them. They are capable of sudden and dramatic changes in direction. Years of well-intentioned intervention may have no impact at all, yet the right intervention - at just the right time - can start a cascade of change. Many of the social ills that face us today, in other words, are as inherently volatile as the epidemics that periodically sweep through the human population: little things can cause them to 'tip' at any time and if we want to understand how to confront and solve them we have to understand what those 'Tipping Points' are. In this revolutionary new study, Malcolm Gladwell explores the ramifications of this. Not simply for politicians and policy-makers, his method provides a new way of viewing everyday experience and enables us to develop strategies for everything from raising a child to running a company.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (14 Feb 2002)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0349113467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349113463
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 713 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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Amazon Review

"The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life," writes Malcolm Gladwell, "is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread just like viruses do." Although anyone familiar with the theory of mimetics will recognise this concept, Gladwell's The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject.

For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanise the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a "Connector": he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere "wasn't just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston", he was also a "Maven" who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day--think of how often you've received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you.

Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the "stickiness" of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger. Although some readers may find the transitional passages between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly, and Gladwell's closing invocation of the possibilities of social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping Point is one of the most effective books on science for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that "tipping point", like "future shock" or "chaos theory," will soon become one of those ideas that everybody knows--or at least knows by name. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Gladwell argues that many contemporary problems - from crime to teenage delinquency and traffic jams - behave like epidemics that are capable of sudden and dramatic changes in direction. Yet the right intervention at just the right time - the Tipping Point - can start a cascade of change and provide a method for developing strategies for everything from raising a child to running a company.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book that tipped 5 Feb 2006
By Niklas Kari VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
In the Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell provides an overview on the phenomenon of social epidemics, the underlying reasons that make things tip. The book is well researched with academic contributions entangled with interesting narrative that illustrates the theory. I would have rated the book five stars if not for two issues. Firstly, the book is almost totally lacks critique about the theories and examples presented. Secondly, while the book contains a lot of interesting ideas, the effort to synthesize them is half-hearted.
Mr. Gladwell has a made a great effort in going through a vast literature – mainly academic, but also popular – to find a number of key factors behind the social epidemics and some interesting narrative to illustrate them. However, the book is not at all academic, rather the value of Mr. Gladwell’s writing comes from packaging academic research to simple concepts and explaining these in length through examples. For those interested in details, there are some ten pages of endnotes that explain the concepts more thoroughly and provide references to the original literature.
So what makes things tip? According to Mr. Gladwell this can be divided into three explaining categories: (1) the law of the few, (2) the stickiness factor, and (3) the power of context. The law of the few states that only a very small part of people are behind the word-of-mouth epidemics and they can be categorized into connectors, mavens, and salesmen. Connectors are persons with exceptionally large personal networks, mavens are experts on the “right” market price and on spotting bargains, and salesmen are persons with extraordinary skill to persuade.
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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Tipping Point 1 May 2008
By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'The Tipping Point' is another entertaining, yet laboured book from Malcolm Gladwell. Like 'Blink' you get an interesting premise, explained very well at the beginning of the book, followed by 150 pages going over the same ground in greater depth. Once you've grasped the initial concept and had it proven with a few examples, you don't really need to go over it much more. Saying that, this book is an entertaining read and has some wonderful examples to illustrate the various points. I particularly enjoyed the chapter exploring the benefits, and tipping point of, sesame street and blues clues. Other chapters though, like the one on suicide and smoking, are pretty aimless and take a long time to make a very minor, insignificant point. This book is worth a read if you liked 'Blink' and it has some interesting ideas explored in it. If you like this I'd recommend 'Predictably irrational' which has similar experiments and is more coherent and focused. In fact, I'd probably recommend that book before this one. This is a good read, but not a great read.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, but not very useful 18 Jan 2006
Format:Paperback
Gladwell clearly makes the case that big events can follow from tiny initial changes, that society has Tipping Points. He illustrates with a number of interesting examples.
But this is not actually anything new. Back in about the '70s, people got very excisted about so-called Catastrophe Theory, which modelled Tipping Points mathematically, and for a short while ther was a lot of hype about a scientific way of analysing disasters.
But that fizzled out for the same reason this will. While it shows that systems have Tipping Points, it provides no way of predicting them or recognising them when they turn up. Only when it has passed and the change has occurred can you say "That was a Tipping Point, that was". Only when the knowledge is of no more use wil you know that a Tip has occurred.
So apart from realising thet "just one more push" may have a disproportionate effect and reach a goal that hundreds of similar pushes have failed to do, you learn nothing from this book. But it is a pleasant read.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable and stimulating 26 Feb 2001
By Mr. Stuart Robert Harris VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
A page-turner of ideas. I'm in no position to judge the soundness of the author's claims, and I'm not about to chase up his footnotes, but I certainly found it highly readable and stimulating. I devoured it in a couple of train journeys and have recommended it to anybody who'll listen.
There are enough big basic premises to get your teeth into, but not so many as to make it indigestible. I read it in between shots at Pinker's "How the Mind Works", which feels like a much denser, more complex and more "scholarly" work. The author seems to have done a fair bit of face-to-face research to get his story, and that helps to make it feel warm and personal. Come to think of it, he even brings Paul Revere to life, so he clearly has a knack with people!
Whether or not the author originated the concepts he presents, and whether or not they stand up to academic scrutiny, they became very "sticky" in this book - to borrow one of the most intuitively apposite ideas.
If you're a heavy-duty academic or social studies professional, it may well raise more questions than it answers. But if you're the sort who likes double-feature think pieces in serious mass-circulation magazines, this is a book for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable book
Cheap price but quite interesting.
Also readers can understand the tipping point by those examples. The language is not difficult as well.
Published 5 days ago by Kirsten
5.0 out of 5 stars the Author is a Brilliant observatinalist
An excellent read
and a must for people who like to know stuff !
great little snipets of info about epidemics of all sorts!
Published 10 days ago by Louise Woodward
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and informative
“How does a thirty-dollar pair of shoes go from a handful of downtown Manhattan hipsters and designers to every mall in America in the space of two years? Read more
Published 16 days ago by George Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars great reading
although written from a different viewpoint, similar to freakonomics and equally fascinating
it makes you look at things differently and in work pay attention to the details
Published 1 month ago by Marcel
5.0 out of 5 stars highly HIGHLY recommended reading!
Malcolm Gladwell is simply a brilliant mind!
Makes you rethink the obvious.
Also recommend his latest book "David and Goliath"
Published 2 months ago by kiivi
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw malcolm on tv and got inspired
I saw an interview with malcolm and cant wait to digg into the books. Without even reading the book, i think this is my favourite book. =)
Published 2 months ago by Intothenorth
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharing the love...
I decided to buy this book for my nephew following a few discussions. I found myself referring to this book and realised what an impact it had on me, so I decided to share the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Peta Stoddart-Crompton
5.0 out of 5 stars Just makes sense!
Easy to read, pacy and informative. Its vital reading for anyone with anything to sell, whether its an idea or a product. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lesley Spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book by an original thinker
This was the first book by Malcolm Gladwell that I read. It was recommended to me by somebody who told me I was "a maven" - and explained that Malcolm Gladwell has a very helpful... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Making a Mark
3.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant but showing its age
In his analysis of evidence that he believes shows the factors that cause a "Tipping Point" when a social behaviour becomes a widespread phenomenon, Gladwell identifies three key... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Open Ears
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