Sunday, January 25, 2009

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

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 a 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.

In The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell changed the way we understand the world. In Blink he changed the way we think about thinking. Outliers will transform the way we understand success.

This was the unabridged audiobook on CD edition (7 CDs/7 hours).

I'm so glad the author read the book! It made an infinite difference in quality of experience. What could have been horrendously boring in other hands was fascinating and informative. While I would not want to listen to him perform other people's books, he did a great job with his own.

Some of the information presented was disconcerting, especially about the intensive schedules the children at the Kip School keep, and the story of the author's own family in the epilogue (which almost ruined the entire book for me), the vast majority is simply amazing. The book keeps you glued to your earphones and makes the seven hours fly right by.

This one gets eight stars (I'm going to ignore the epilogue in this calculation, as that would force me to lower the score to six stars). The information was presented clearly and in a way that was easy to understand and assimilate. The author's reading of the book gave more of a conversational feel to the material versus a lecture. While the book was rather long, the time was well worth it for the fascinating views presented.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆


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