1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Best Gladwell Book So Far, 17 Jan 2009
Outliers is an insightful and thought provoking overview of what it takes to succeed. While Gladwell makes it clear that no one can plan to become an extraordinary success, "an outlier", he has uncovered some very intriguing, seemingly commonsense, ideas about we can do to help ourselves and others reach their potential.
The arguments are presented as a series of beautifully written anecdotes carefully woven together to present a fairly coherent whole. I like this anecdotal approach because I find it much easier to digest a story than a research paper.
Much as I couldn't put them down, Gladwell's first two books are like diamond encrusted stilettos - great for parties ("did you know that you can accurately predict whether a couple will divorce before marriage in less than a minute?") but not much use everyday. This book is more of a lightweight, comfortable, walking shoe - less flashy but it might take you on a long journey while lacking ankle support.
The long journey is how we might guide our own or childrens' path to maximum fulfillment. While you might be familiar with some of the concepts, what is unique about this book is the clear and coherent way these are explained. Gladwell's amazing ability to see through the distortions in our current way of thinking is remarkable - if purposeful hard work is the key to success why don't we do more of it at school? (Something educationalists seemingly ignore with arguments about methodologies, class sizing, streaming, class war and so on.)
The lack of ankle support is the reliance on specific interpretations of research and anecdotes to make his elegant points. If I had Mr Gladwells amazing powers of exposition I reckon I could take most of his stories and make the opposite point. It is churlish to complain since that is what makes it so very readable but very few of his arguments are presented in a way that would convince a professional researcher.
In the UK the book is oddly presented, with no reviewer comments about Outliers in the cover - leading me to suspect that this was a weak book when browsing.