Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Not as good as Outliers; several contradictions and too repetitive
on 19 February 2017
I had recently read the 'Outliers' by Gladwell and enjoyed it; with such books you need to have the right approach; that is to have an open mind and not expect empirical-based conclusions, but rather be prepared to read and enjoy amusing and thought-provoking correlations and observations from selective situations. This book however stunned me. It was written around 7-8 years before the 'Outliers' and you could easily tell how Gladwell's maturity had evolved in that period. This book is so repetitive in its themes, redundant in asserting its conclusions and simply boring in its overall flow. While I found many of the examples amusing in the 'Outliers', here they lacked originality and intrigue. What struck me initially was how Gladwell had provided a totally different explanation as to why crime fell in NYC in this book, than to what he later mentioned in the Outliers. Why the dramatic change of opinion? I will not go in much details so as not to spoil this for those who are yet to read his books. His example on the success of Sesame Street was so protracted and based on the unique discipline of child psychology that I am not sure how transferable the conclusion here was to his overrriding theories. His conclusions on teenage smoking can be easily refuted based on recent studies (remember the book was written around 15 years ago). And lastly, I was so dumbfounded by his observations on suicides in Micronesia that I decided to test the study myself. He mentions a suicide rate of 170 per 100,000 and concludes how it was one of the highest in the world. I checked for myself that in that period of time the entire population of Micronesia was around 70,000 and so the actual statistical population was so small and there were so many isolated cases that he had already mentioned that any statistician would yield their results as unacceptable (in light of the small statistical population) and in need of adjustment. Having said all that, his theory on the tipping point is not unfounded and could have better been presented in a long new yorker-style article, rather than a protracted book filled with either dubious or naive examples.