I have a Kindle for a few weeks, and so I'm reading Outliers because it was recommended to me. Some of the case studies are really, really fascinatingI have a Kindle for a few weeks, and so I'm reading Outliers because it was recommended to me. Some of the case studies are really, really fascinating, although I don't know if they lead up to Gladwell's ultimate argument, which is that for the most part we're all a product of circumstances rather than individual initiative and Horatio Alger-type American dream stories. To cite one example, Gladwell says that the best year for a potential computer/software entrepreneur to be born is 1955-- and Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Joy were all born in 1954-6. Obviously, Bill Joy couldn't have founded Sun Microsystems if he'd been born in 1893, and yes, it's true that he may not have done so if he'd been born in 1952. Yet, there were many other people who had the opportunities Bill Joy had -- the University of Michigan has tens of thousands of students-- and only one became Bill Joy the software entrepreneur. There were dozens of other people born the same year as Bill Gates who went to Bill Gates' private high school yet turned down the opportunity to join the computer club or do all the programming Gates did. There were probably dozens or hundreds of young programmers who spent just as much time on their craft on computers just as advanced as Gates and Joy had, but they didn't have the particular entrepreneurship to bring computers to the masses. Gladwell's citation of a study which implies that Southerners are more easily offended also has holes big enough to drive a truck through-- Southerners might be more easily offended not because they're all Hatfield-McCoy, homicidal crazies, but because people in the South are generally more polite and Southerners are therefore less likely to encounter random insults by strangers-- so when they do, they're really, really offended.
I'm not to the end yet, but it's not yet clear how everything ties in together....more
This book is one of the driest reads I've ever encountered. It may as well be a list of declarative sentences since it lacks any form of interesting pThis book is one of the driest reads I've ever encountered. It may as well be a list of declarative sentences since it lacks any form of interesting presentation, personality, or analysis whatsoever. It is strictly information, and if you are not already deeply interested in the subject, there's nothing here to intrigue you.
The book contains very interesting information, in great detail, on the development of Palestinian women's groups, student movements, labor unions, teacher's unions, and Red Crescent Societies in Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan.
A major drawback is that Brand treats Syria and Lebanon as footnotes and only includes about two pages of information on each of these countries, which (besides Jordan) are some of the most consequential places of residence for Palestinians throughout the decades. I'm not sure why she chose to ignore the larger Palestinian populations within Syria and Lebanon in favor of documenting the smaller populations in Egypt and Kuwait.
The information on Kuwaiti Palestinians, in the 1988 edition I read, didn't seem to correlate with the fact that just three years later the Kuwaiti Palestinians (who are spoken of in this book as treated very well within Kuwait) were expelled by the hundreds of thousands, primarily into Jordan. I read the 1988 edition, but the 1991 edition is probably much more timely since it could include information on the mass expulsion of Palestinians from Kuwait (for their support of Saddam Hussein over Kuwait in that war). Laurie Brand has gone on to write other books, but this one sorely needs to be updated....more