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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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on 6 December 2013
I'm a big fan of Gladwell especially his short stories and articles in The New Yorker. David and Goliath is a compelling analogy for the world in which we live today and had the making of a great book but I feel Gladwell fell short of the book's (and the point he set out to prove) true potential.

The premise that the small can take on the big and mighty and win in today's fast paced and rapidly changing world is compelling. But his book fails to inspire and that is a disappointment. The premise had been well laid out early in the book and I expected it to progress to great current day learnings but the entire book labours a point that most readers will get and agree with early on. Gladwell would then have done better to show the learnings and pitfalls of the analogy rather than spending chapter after chapter proving a point that had already been proven.

Some good stories, well written and easy to read but could've delivered so much more. A decent book but from Gladwell I expected something more.

3 1/2 stars.
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on 24 March 2017
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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on 23 June 2017
As with Gladwell's previous books, David and Golliath is enjoyable to read with vivid examples and detailed descriptions. Analysis and arguments are not too deep but they don't have to be. I think the book accomplishes its goal.
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on 18 August 2015
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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on 4 April 2017
arrived all good
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on 9 June 2014
Brilliantly written, thought provoking. If you liked Outliers then you'll love this. I actually thought he could have developed it a little more, especially on the education front. Where do these people go who are small fishes in big ponds? But I loved the book all he same.
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on 29 May 2017
Disappointing compared to his previous work
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on 28 November 2014
Fantastic read
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on 25 May 2014
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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