David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell tells the tales of how people overcame challenges to create success in their lives. The book takes its title from the Bible story of how David defeats the giant Goliath. Mr. Gladwell takes a different perspective on the story shedding light on exactly how David defeated the giant. He posits that logic and ingenuity favored David. As is typical of Gladwell’s style, he takes an uncommon look at the common. It is almost a how-to guide on how to turn challenges into advantages. Another interesting shift in perception he brings to light is how attending a prestigious university may result in poor academic results, not better.
What Worked Well
In every chapter, Mr. Gladwell uses story to illustrate his points. This makes for easy reading, understanding and overall enjoyable experience. The overall message of the book is quite positive. If you shift your perspective what you think is holding you back may actually be what will propel you forward. Starting off the book by flipping the story of David and Goliath on its head is important because it sets the tone that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
What Didn’t Work Well
One could argue that Mr. Gladwell used particular stories that would result in demonstrating the points he wants to make. It’s not a well-researched piece of work. I’m not sure, having read most of his work, Gladwell intends for it to be. If you are looking for a well-researched step-by-step plan or positive correlation between challenges and success, look elsewhere. The book is a well-written work that is meant to relate outlier stories in a way that would resonate with “everyday people”. It provides encouragement in a meaningful way but not in a scientific way.
David and Goliath receives three stars, when you have time and interest, it is a good read. I am a big Malcolm Gladwell fan. Compared to his other books, it’s not as well-researched, but it is well written and persuasive. It is largely anecdotal using stories intertwined with some research. It really depends on what you as the reader want to get out of the book. If you want factual and proven methods or techniques to overcome obstacles in your life, you won’t find it here and may finish the book wanting. If you want inspiration and a sense of not the first or not alone, this book is for you. Either way, Mr. Gladwell’s writing is excellent and you will not be disappointed with his skill at weaving together stories that tell a bigger story. What you will not find here is the same critical approach seen in The Tipping Point or Outliers.
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