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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants Hardcover – 3 Oct 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 227 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (3 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846145813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846145810
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

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

I devoured it in a single reading, being a Gladwell addict for many years (Richard E. Grant)

His most accessible book ... A Scheherazade for our time, talking to keep us going and make us think (Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph)

His best yet ... intoxicating, powerful ... more socially and morally engaged than his previous work (Oliver Burkeman Guardian)

A pleasure (Tim Adams Observer)

Lovely ... as with most of Gladwell's books he had me at hello - the initial thesis is simply irresistible (Leah McLaren Globe and Mail)

Truly intriguing and inspiring ... unforgettable (Hector Tobar Los Angeles Times)

As always, Gladwell's sweep is breathtaking and thought-provoking ... I've long admired Gladwell's work (Joe Nocera The New York Times)

Fascinating ... Gladwell is a master of synthesis. This perennially bestselling author prides himself on radical re-thinking and urges the rest of us to follow suit (Heller McAlpin Washington Post)

David and Goliath readers will travel with colorful characters who overcame great difficulties and learn fascinating facts about the Battle of Britain, cancer medicine and the struggle for civil rights, to name just a few topics upon which Mr. Gladwell's wide-ranging narrative touches. This is an entertaining book (Christopher F. Chabris Wall Street Journal)

What propels the book, like all of Gladwell's writing, is his intoxicating brand of storytelling. He is the master of mixing familiar elements with surprise counter-intuitions, and then seasoning with a sprinkling of scientific evidence ... Gladwell is a master craftsman, an outlier amongst authors (Rob Brooks Huffington Post)

Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath, an energetic, counterintuitive exploration of why (and how) underdogs succeed, and how disabilities, traumatic childhoods, and other seeming lacks can sometimes trump power (Guardian, Books of the Year 2013)

From the Inside Flap

His 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 uplifting that also links them. It is that good beats bad - just when you least expected it. - Financial Time. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gladwell's books have a similar structure and generate similar controversies: pick a big idea, illustrate it with lots of quirky case studies focused on human stories, produce a best seller and watch the critics pull part the accuracy of many points. Yet even after the critical battering, there's often some interesting and relevant ideas left at the heart of his books, though ones it's a good idea to read up about from others too before applying them yourself.

David & Goliath fits that mould perfectly, except that this time the big idea is a little less striking - as the famous story in the title reveals, the basic idea that the underdog can win out is hardly new (even if, as Gladwell argues, the version of David & Goliath we are all used to hearing is flawed).

A fun breezy read to get you thinking, rather than a detailed case built on evidence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love books of Malcolm Gladwell. This wasn't the best of his that I've read, but nevertheless, still fascinating insights into people and how they tick.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a nice reminder of how to see what might be perceived weakness as the strengths they are. There's something very powerful in this idea and this book engages with it in a lively and thought provoking way.
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Format: Audio Download Verified Purchase
arrived all good
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Disappointing compared to his previous work
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic read
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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 Verified Purchase
Another good read from Malcolm Gladwell again. Some intriguing points though it does feel, as with other books, he is finding facts to fit his theories and not the other way around.
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