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Monday, January 26, 2009

Outliers: A Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell~★★

Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Title: Outliers: A Story of Success
Release Date: November 18th, 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Genre: Non-fiction

Book Jacket: "Why do some people succeed far more than others? There is a story that is usually told about extremely successful people, a story that focuses on intelligence and ambition. In Outliers Malcolm Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them-at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date. The story of success is more complex-and a lot more interesting-than it initially appears.
Outliers explains what the Beatles and Bill Gates have in common, the extraordinary success of Asians at math, the hidden advantages of star athletes, why all top New York lawyers have the same resume, and the reason you've never heard of the world's smartest man-all in terms of generation, family, culture, and class. It matters what year you were born if you want to be Silicon Valley billionaire, Gladwell argues, and it matters where you were born if you want to be a successful pilot. The lives of outliers-those people whose achievements fall outside normal experience-follow a peculiar and unexpected logic, and in making that logic plain Gladwell presents a fascinating and provocative blueprint for making the most of human potential.

Taryn's Review: My ex-father-in-law had raved about A Thousand Splendid Suns and I thought it was a spectacular book as well. He also raved about Outliers and I'm sad to report that I heartily disagree that this book was good.

Outliers author Gladwell did a great job cherry-picking facts and looping them together to create his argument; he argued that success is much more than hard work and determination. He promoted the idea that certain people are given certain opportunities that help them get to the top over others who might be more deserving. Well, yeah, obviously. I felt like this was common sense. Haven't we all seen examples of this in our daily lives?

Gladwell gets very absurd when he discussed why Asians are so much better at math than non-Asian speaking people. I guess he forgot that many Asians never speak any Asian-based language. He also promoted the idea that Asians are determined to succeed in tasks/life because their ancestors were determined to be successful in agricultural feats like growing rice paddies. He even used French peasants as a counter-argument and said French peasants did nothing during the summer months while Asians toiled relentlessly in other jobs during their down season because they were seasoned to work hard. I can only imagine the hatred coming from French-studying historians toward Gladwell!

In closing, the book was so cherry-picked and the facts so distorted that I think Gladwell forgot what his supposed thesis was at times (a thesis that he doesn't state right off the bat like a good writer should). If you want to be successful, avoid this book and find some other source to use.

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