Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: Outliers


Yet another spectacular book by Mr. Gladwell. I think three authors I'd love to have dinner with would be him, Douglas Adams, and Robert Sapolsky. I do enjoy some of the criticism of his work however, most notably spoofs of his writing style. There's some truth that he just kind of recycles points others have made, but I always enjoy when someone can explain science (which includes psychology) in a way that's understandable to someone who doesn't read journal articles for a living, yet also smart enough to not lose too much of the intellectual rigor behind the research.

Anyhow, the book is great - a well-aimed arrow in the heart of the theory that we all succeed by talent and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, or fail by not doing so. It makes the case, very compellingly, that we're much more affected by cultural legacies, luck, dedication, and broader societal values and movements than individual talent. Not everyone can just create success. Which seems obvious when you say it, but so often we think of success in different, more meritorious terms.

It's also very fun and interesting to read - the third book of his I've taken less than two days to speed through. I'd rank Tipping Point first, this second and Blink third.


  1. Hi, Paul Fidalgo told me about your project. Awesome goal. Myself and a few other Twitters are doing 52 Books in 52 Weeks, so it's inspiring see your challenge. Nice collection so far. Here's mine:
    On my 3rd book. Maybe next year I'll shoot for a 100.

  2. That's great! 52 seems a lot more realistic than what I'm attempting. Maybe in August I'll convert.

    Good luck on your reading, and enjoy!