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Customer Review

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Series of remarkably unremarkable observations, 4 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Outliers: The Story of Success (Paperback)
Once I've started a book I don't like to stop short of finishing it but this one required real perseverance to get through.
To be fair, the first two chapters contained the vaguely interesting observations that hockey players born just after the January 1 cutoff day fared better, and the '10,000 hour rule'. However, there is nothing of note which isn't contained in the amazon description. He just sort of rams the point home over and over, with painstakingly laborious examples. In fact, I've literally told you everything you need to know about the book. Well, that and the fact the the Beatles spent some time playing all-nighters in Hamburg before they got big.

The rest of the book is filled with massive (though, in fairness, not entirely unjustified) cultural stereotypes (Jews are hard working, East Asians are better at maths etc). He prunes and frames his examples so they tenuously fit his overly neat and simplistic conclusions - ah, so all plane crashes are due to pilots coming from countries with a low 'power distance index' (throughout the book, you will find Gladwell over complicates things by using terms like this for otherwise simple ideas), are they? great. Why don't we just save ourselves the bother and hire Gladwell to run our airline safety programs?

Most of the conclusions which he draws are mind-numbingly boring and obvious from the start of the (unnecessarily long and convoluted) chapters. Right, so you mean that the more you practice, the more likely you are to succeed? I never would have guessed. And poor people living in poverty have to work harder to earn a wage? crazy stuff Malcolm... What's next? Black people have darker skin? Chinese people come from China?

From what I can make out from other reviews, the central theme is that talent alone does not bring success (what, so we actually have to work to achieve things?), but to be honest there is very little coherence between individual chapters.

I just cannot understand this book getting any critical acclaim. Just have a look the synopsis on amazon and spend your time reading something more worthwhile. I'm glad I got this book from the library, because I would be very annoyed if I had actually paid for it. I think Gladwell must have spent 10,000 hours nattering on about some boring old anecdotes, because he's certainly mastered that.
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