Customer Review

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but trivial, 30 Oct 2005
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
Of course, the term 'tipping point' predates the book and we are, in the end, told very little we didn't already know. The essentials of the phenomenon are well known, even to children. Gladwell's claim that we can use the book to change outcomes in the real world is unsubstantiated and the examples he gives ultimately bear this out. In one example a footware company uses the principles he elucidates to become hugely successful. Much less is then made of that company's subsequent decline. If they have a winning idea that is of permanent utility why doesn't it continue to work? Gladwell doesn't even gloss over this - he ignores it.

Gladwell's method is thoroughly unscientific and relies on anecdotes and the supposed identification of a set of personality types that are so infrequent, it would appear, that we need to be told about them. These personality types are responsible for much of the way the world works, apparently. Anecdotes are the bane of much of American authorship nowadays and seem to be substitutes for actual knowledge about something, which needs proof. I suspect it has something to do with a culture that is steeped in religious faith (as opposed to the more sceptical European culture). Perhaps Americans are simply accustomed to hearing people make a lot of claims without expecting to provide proof. Bits and bobs of something somewhat scientific are popped in on a couple of occasions to give a little flavour, however.

It also appears that Gladwell has not heard of any alternative theories to explain outcomes - he certainly fails to take other factors into consideration - chaos theory - for example.

What Gladwell does is provide a very readable, light, entertaining book. His anecdotes are entertaining and his people satisfyingly larger than life. I enjoyed most of it although it got significantly weaker towards the end as repetition set in and the plot began to slip. In the end I can't help thinking that those who think the book is a revelation are rather naive.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Apr 2008 19:34:00 BDT
R. Evans says:
It's funny. You take cheap shots at "Americans" (over 300 million individuals) and praise "Europeans" for being skeptical. And yet, on the American Amazon site (.com rather than .co.uk) the Tipping Point scored only 4 stars. On the UK site, it scored 4.5 stars. Obviously, this is deeply flawed (i.e. biased) data, but still...

Other than your second paragraph, where you provide yet another data point of an arrogant (and knee-jerk anti-American?) European, I do agree with your review entirely.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Oct 2008 22:29:47 BDT
Curiously enough, I tend to be rather pro-American and spend a lot of time speaking to other Europeans about how they have forgotten all th epositive things that America has done in the world, by funding the campaign against smallpox worldwide, for example, or perhaps reminding a critical South Korean that but for the USA (mainly) he'd be on the wrong side of the DMZ. As to American unpopularity, the extraordinarily unqualified George Bush has done immense damage to the credibility of America - Iraq war or no Iraq war.

As to the scores of the Tipping Point on the different sites, well played!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2011 08:58:10 BDT
J. Nichols says:
I happen to agree with your views but at the same time do not think that "market trends" need to be accounted for 'scientifically'. Another word for market trend is fad and I believe science has better things to get involved with ! Incidentally I was wearing "Hush Puppies" in the 80s, found them just about elegant enough and very comfortable, but rejected them on the grounds of a rather unpleasant smell which I associated with the glue used for the interior finish. (Oh, dear, I'll never be a connector !)
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