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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants Paperback – 8 May 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 210 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (8 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241959594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241959596
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Intoxicating, powerful and morally engaged (Guardian)

Breath-taking and thought-provoking (New York Times)

Truly intriguing and inspiring (Los Angeles Times)

Gladwell's most enjoyable book so far. It is a feel-good extravaganza, nourishing both heart and mind. Each of its stories ... has an ending that is both happy and surprising. What ostensibly unites the stories are the twin ideas that an advantage can sometimes be a disadvantage and that a disadvantage can sometimes be an advantage. Yet there is something more powerful and more uplifting that also links them. It is that good beats bad - just when you least expected it (Financial Times)

When you read it, you feel like you can topple giants (Jon Ronson)

An energetic, counterintuitive exploration of why (and how) underdogs succeed (Guardian, Books of the Year)

Continuing to gently but persistently blow my mind (Lauren Laverne)

I devoured it in a single reading (Richard E. Grant)

The pre-eminent public intellectual of his age (The Times)

Bloody good (Gabby Logan)

About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What The Dog Saw and David and Goliath.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Gladwell has a formula: he picks a grand thesis - in this case that what are ordinarily perceived of as disadvantages might not be wholly negative - and then carefully arranges around it anecdotes of such simple humanity that one is forced, between dabbing the tears away and spontaneous rounds of applause, to swallow the damn thing whole.

There's a circle of scientific hell set aside for those who build their theses from anecdotes and artfully chosen evidence. However, people love anecdotes and when skilfully done it can bamboozle the critical faculties of the audience like a well rehearsed magic trick. The problem is, in David and Goliath, the patter seems a bit more forced, Gladwell fluffs the shuffle and we can, quite clearly, see a dove's head poking out of his sleeve and cooing insistently.

The anecdotes drag out a bit too long, to the extent that you start to wonder not only what the point is, but whether there's a point at all. Sometimes the point is separated so distantly from the anecdote that a quick flick back through the book is necessary. When that happens, the author has lost control and the effect falls to pieces. Gladwell relies so heavily on effect rather than a coherent argument that if we don't buy into it completely, we don't buy into it at all.

That's not to say that there's nothing in the book worth reading. There are some excellent paradoxical nuggets of insight and he still has a knack for taking something familiar - like the story of David and Goliath, which opens the book - and giving you a whole new way of looking at it. He also has a collection of stories about people that are fascinating in their own right.

So, yes, there are high points scattered through the book, but the whole seems half finished as if he didn't have the time to properly gather his thoughts together before committing them to the printer.
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Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that Gladwell is an entertaining writer and parts of this book are fun to read. However, as with "Tipping Point" I got half way through and thought this is repeating the same fairly obvious point again and again. I was also put off by his very one sided account of the early days of the Northern Ireland troubles. Some of what he says is true, some statements are sweeping without a shred of evidence, and the whole piece needs to be put into a proper historical context - otherwise it could be misleading, particularly to an American audience.
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Format: Hardcover
I love reading Malcolm Gladwell books. He's an incredibly compelling writer, and this book is no different. It's an interesting and thought-provoking book. However, as with some of his previous writings, it completely lacks the rigour to be taken seriously. In virtually every chapter he states a non-obvious point, but then tells a single, non-representative story to back it up. Which is great for helping you understand what he's saying, but certainly not enough if you're thinking critically to believe it.
Overall, if you're looking for a fun read buy this book, but if you're looking to learn the "art of battling giants", this isn't going to do it. And since that's part of the title, this book only earns 2-stars.
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Format: Paperback
I could forgive Gladwell his sweeping generalisations, backed up in some cases by no evidence whatsoever, up until the chapter about the conflict in Northern Ireland. I was appalled to see a respected writer give such a one sided and misleading account of a very complex and destructive situation (on BOTH sides!). Either his research was seriously flawed or he chose to ignore the more inconvenient facts in order, ironically, to legitimise his theory about legitimacy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the third book I read by Gladwell. The first few chapters were really interesting and moving. But when he started talking about Belfast and France in the Second World War, the examples don't prove anything. Sorry only 3 stars .
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Format: Hardcover
I have read and reviewed all of Malcolm Gladwell's previous books and consider him to be among the most talented and energetic of journalists, with most of his work featured in The New Yorker. He also has superb storyteller skills. His "discoveries" tend to be well-known to those knowledgeable about the given subject. In The Tipping Point, for example, he discusses a phenomenon previous characterized by Michael Kami as a "trigger point" and later by Andrew Grove as an "inflection point." Or consider "the secret of success" that he discusses in The Outliers. For decades, Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have been conducting research on peak performance. He duly acknowledges sources such as Ericsson and should be praised for attracting greater attention to the subjects he discusses. That is Gladwell's great value.

However, in his latest book, David and Goliath, he demonstrates faulty reasoning, such as what Christopher Chabris characterizes as "the fallacy of the unexamined premise." He also has problems with causal relationships and this is not the first time that Gladwell confuses "because" with "despite." For example, consider his assertion that attorney David Boies's great success is largely explained by the fact that he is dyslexic. Overcoming learning disabilities may have been - for Boies as well as countless others -- what Warren Bennis and David Thomas characterize as a "crucible" that strengthens and enlightens those who emerge from it.

In this context, I am reminded of the fact that one of the world's most renowned authorities on ADHD, Edward ("Ned") Hallowell, is an author of countless books and articles on the subject, a child and adult psychiatrist, and a New York Times bestselling author.
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