Neil White's Reviews > What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
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Jul 29, 12

Read from April 02 to July 28, 2012

A good magician is always fun to watch. But if you watch him perform a trick too many times, over and over, the magic wears thin, and you run the risk of figuring out how he performs the trick.

That's kind of how I felt reading this book. I'm a big fan of Gladwell, and greatly enjoyed Blink and Outliers, both of which changed my perceptions on a lot of things I took for granted. And plenty of these stories were just as riveting as parts of those longer books. But reading the 20 or so short pieces, a lot of the magic that drew me into those books fell away, and his writing techniques became too apparent for me to enjoy at the same level. Start with an interesting anecdote, end said anecdote with a twist of how the logic or perception involved was most likely flawed, continue on that said thought, possibly introducing a contrasting anecdote, ending back around at the beginning, reflecting on original anecdote. That's pretty much how he does it, and while it makes for great reading in a weekly New Yorker, it's just not as engaging over and over again - like hearing the same song on the radio on repeat.

So I guess my main gripe is with the nature of the book itself as a collection of shorter works than with any of the works themselves. There are great stories here - most notably about dog training (which is where the collection takes its title), the Enron scandal, and pit bulls and dog attacks. There is lots of interesting stuff here to varying degrees (some of the earlier stuff doesn't quite have the same kick as later works, which is to be expected of most journalists, I guess), so it's worth a read if you're a fan of Gladwell. But as an entry point I'd sooner recommend Blink or Outliers, personally.
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04/09/2012 page 100
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