Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-07-22
5
Reviewed: 2021-06-21
A quick and interesting read. Separately, I thought all the chapters/anecdotes were fascinating, but I'm not sure I find Gladwell's overall argument compelling--at least in the sense of how groundbreaking and cohesive he seems to think it is. I'd certainly recommend this book regardless.
Reviewed: 2021-05-19
see my Outliers open book post

Following is my contribution to a recent email discussion of Outliers.

I've heard two effective criticisms of Outliers:
1) Of all those whose success stories Gladwell tells, not a one is female; and
2) Gladwell's logic is flawed, arguments poorly supported, and (the critic
implies) assertions racist. That review is here: http://bit.ly/8OZib

My own strongest objection to the book came in a chapter that highly praises an academic program that seems horrifying to me, not least because it would be literally impossible to participate and get close to adequate sleep. I think his definition of success in this chapter (at least) is flawed.

That said, I was also taken with the 10,000 hour rule, both for my daughter
and myself. I wrote briefly about that here: http://bit.ly/xxBah
Reviewed: 2020-12-11
The hard work with luck (directly one's or of one's forefathers) plays most important role for being 'the outlier'. excellent read, a new look at the world we live in. Blindly following a desire may lead to insanity.

The four stars.... Because I found many details missing to fully agree with the author. What about Gates friends, who had same opportunities, they ain't the same
Reviewed: 2020-05-27
Four for content and thesis, two for... why was all of that great information so boring? Maybe it was just me, but I'm suspicious.
Reviewed: 2020-04-04
Little, Brown and Company
Reviewed: 2019-09-02
Outliers is better thank Blink, not as good as The Tipping Point. Like with Blink, Gladwell stitches together an overall point using a variety of anecdotes and stories, but like The Tipping Point (and unlike Blink) he does a decent job of citing scientific studies to back up his argument.

Outliers is a short book, but it still often feels overlong for the point. Often I found myself thinking "okay, I get it, let's move on."

Some of the sections, in particular the one about a specific airline prone to crashes, seem only barely related to the point. As I read the section about the airline, I kept wondering what the hell it had to do with the rest of the book. After reflecting on it a bit, I see its place in the book a bit more now, but it still feels only barely related to the narrative.

Overall, an interesting book that makes a few persuasive arguments (I'll look at summer vacation from school very differently now), but it's interesting almost in spite of how it's written, rather than because of it.
Reviewed: 2016-11-03

Recommended by Prof. Brandon Smith

Reviewed: 2015-10-31
It was enjoyable, but like much of Gladwell's books, it depends way more on "Ohhhhhh....... aaaaaahhhhhh....." than any real theses. That said, it still is an enjoyable, worthwhile read, and it gave me things to think about in a whole new way.

I have to admit that I didn't quite get it when he waxed poetic about the KIPP schools. I know nothing about these schools - the sum total of my experience is what he describes in this book. It sounds like child abuse to me, and I'm not certain that it's a good example of an Outlier.

I listened to the audio version, and it ended with an interview with Mr. Gladwell. The interview was mostly Canadian Anti-American Socialist claptrap and it really left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Without the interview, I probably would have felt a lot better about this book.
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