Sunday, November 26, 2017

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like Gladwell's fresh perspective on the world, especially when he presents data about historical events that reframe our understanding of the world. On the other hand, I do feel like he is especially susceptible to seeing the world through his own political lens, and it comes through in his writings. Why does this bother me? His whole message is to question your assumptions and even your intuition about the world. To hear his bias in his message is incongruous with his purpose. Do I think his books are therefore false, or not worth your time? Absolutely not. They are good books. This is just something that bugs me in the books of his I have read so far.

On to this content specifically: looking for situations where diminishing returns have become negative returns is a valuable insight. His example of university education resonated with me personally, and several of the other examples made perfect sense. It did fall a little flat on a few examples though. Were the Reynolds in CA really overly vengeful compared to the descendants of Mennonites in Winnipeg? What about the pre-event crime rates in both locations? Crimes per capita? While I get what he was trying to show, it was less convincing when he didn't address those questions that would also lead to very different approaches. Similarly, what other factors might have caused the apparent failure of 3 strikes in CA? Was it really a bad idea, or did another condition exist, before or after the law was put into effect, that produced the less effective outcomes mentioned.

So in the end, this book does its job because it made me think of all these impacts. My 14-year old son started reading it, and was especially impacted by the concepts around wealth and raising kids. This is the type of thinking that will help generations, I believe.

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