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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  84,248 Ratings  ·  6,512 Reviews
In his #1 bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally determined) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. D ...more
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 1st 2011)
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Marcus
Dec 03, 2013 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gladwell is taking a lot of heat for biasing the examples he chooses in his books to make points that are often later shown to be somewhat tenuous. That may be the case, but he is a heck of a writer. He knows how to tell a compelling story and the conversations he sparks go on for years.

Whatever harm that may come from the lack of rigorousness in his brand of pop-psychology is easily overshadowed by the positive cultural impact that comes from people giving serious consideration to his ideas an
...more
Nabil Dabbagh
Dec 02, 2013 Nabil Dabbagh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think everyone heard my jaw drop. Much like a born again who reads the bible for the first time, I have never been able to relate to a book as well as with David & Goliath.

Disclosure: I'm a dyslexic who spent all of his youth struggling through school -- spending my lunches tirelessly improving my spelling while everyone else spent their lunch break improving their rest. Things turned out all right, I was one of the first dyslexics at my school to graduate with an International Baccalaurea
...more
Riku Sayuj
Feb 25, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it it was ok

The Art of Avoiding Bestsellers: A Field Guide for Authors


How do books succeed?


By getting into the Bestseller lists? By making a few millions? By winning the most prestigious awards of the day?


Wrong.


These are very narrow views on what constitutes success for a work of art, especially literature or serious non-fiction. If we redefine success, we might find that these very things that confers ‘success’ in the short term might be hurting the artist/author the most in the long term. This applies t
...more
Tony
Sep 09, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No-one does insight porn quite as well as Malcolm Gladwell. His technique has been fairly well analysed before, and, with the publication of “David and Goliath” is currently under the spotlight again (e.g. http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/m... and http://blog.chabris.com/2013/10/why-m...). Even though much of the backlash often falls directly into the same traps of which he gets accused (e.g. critics cherry-picking the parts of his books that best support their complaints), the key argument i ...more
Andrew
Oct 05, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
Malcolm Gladwell is one of those authors who you remember reading, but may not quite recall which book a particular phrase came from. They're all pretty similar.

But that's the beauty of Gladwell. He's developing a coherent canon and, really, do you want to be surprised all the time? The world is disconcerting enough already.

The title, David and Goliath, tells you exactly what this book is about. It's about the little guy who made good and, even better, who turned his adversities into strengths.
...more
Amanda
Oct 07, 2013 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Now, there is a lot of skepticism about Gladwell and his research methods, but whether he self-selects his data or whatever, I think that the very nature of his writing indicates that his research isn't totally conclusive. So why bother reading him? Well, Gladwell, whether he's a legitimate social scientist(or whatever the term is) or not, is a pretty gifted writer. He has a knack for telling stories and presenting dry information, like statistics, in a compelling way. Plus, his theories are alw ...more
Trevor
Nov 13, 2013 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This guy writes so well. He draws you in with beautifully crafted stories. Murnane says in one of his books that he regretted having told people that some of his books were works of fiction and some essays. I really believe that creativity is essential for both these writing tasks, and that because real art prefers to hide, there is a good argument to be had in believing that more creativity is asked for in the writing of non-fiction than in fiction.

Not that this guy really hides his artifice. H
...more
Caroline
Nov 03, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I'm a Spock sort of person. I believe that everything in the universe is logical. If something appears to be illogical it is simply because our knowledge about it is lacking. Unlike Spock though I embrace a wider spectrum of what constitutes logic, eg emotions are very important and relevant....but otherwise I agree completely with his approach to life.

This book is all about situations that don't look logical on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper you discover the logic. To that extent i
...more
Jane Stewart
What an excellent storyteller. I love his mind. I was smiling a lot. It’s stimulating. These things are fun to think about.

Not everything he says is irrefutable fact. Some of his information is anecdotal. But he raises good questions. I think what he says is true, even though opposite or different views may be true. Some topics were a little slow, but I was frequently delighted and fascinated.

MY FAVORITE TOPICS:
The story of David and Goliath

Less talented basketball players can win using full cou
...more
Diane
This is classic Malcolm Gladwell: A bunch of enjoyable and entertaining case studies grouped loosely under a thought-provoking theme. This time his theory is that being the underdog and having disadvantages can actually be an advantage.

The title comes from a biblical story about a giant warrior named Goliath who was slain by David, a shepherd boy who was good with a slingshot. Gladwell analyzes the story and determines that the boy was not, in fact, an underdog, but was actually was a skilled hu
...more
David
Dec 25, 2013 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, psychology
Malcolm Gladwell's books are all in the same style. Gladwell writes interesting anecdotes and then generalizes them, showing common themes, behaviors, or morals. Whether or not these generalizations are valid, his books are vastly entertaining, and this book is no exception. David and Goliath is perhaps the most entertaining book I read this year!

In the introduction, Gladwell reviews the biblical story of David and Goliath. The popular conception is that Goliath was a mighty warrior, and David a
...more
Sarah Novak
Oct 07, 2013 Sarah Novak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never hidden my stigmatized identity as an academic social scientist who loves Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell's books are routinely criticized by folks in my field for relying too heavily on anecdotes, conveniently selecting and interpreting supportive scientific studies, and imprecision/ overgeneralization. These points are valid, but I don't see them as damning. Gladwell isn't a scientist, and he's not writing textbooks. Ideally, he helps spark people's interest in research and makes them wan ...more
James
Dec 17, 2013 James rated it liked it
I wrote about my Malcolm Gladwell ambivalence in my What the Dog Saw review. Reading Gladwell has become, for me, the literary equivalent of eating Cheetos or listening to Coldplay - I unequivocally enjoy the experience, but in a vaguely unsatisfying way and I wouldn't want anyone to catch me doing it. His rhetorical stock-in-trade is the reassessment of received wisdom about human behavior examined with respect to such organizing topics as trends, decision-making, success and, in this instance, ...more
Josh Brock
Malcolm Gladwell is notorious in certain circles for his brand of "turns out" pseudo-science writing. The typical structure look something like this: First, he lays out a topic about which there's a certain conventional wisdom. He then proceeds to explain, through a series of anecdotes back loosely by scientific research, that it "turns out" that this conventional wisdom is incorrect. This book follows that formula, but less successfully and have previous works.

Overall, this book was very medioc
...more
Aaron Thibeault
Oct 22, 2013 Aaron Thibeault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*A full executive summary of this book is available here: http://newbooksinbrief.com/2013/10/22...

This book is not about underdogs and giants in any conventional sense of these terms. Rather, the book is about the curious nature of advantages and disadvantages, and how each can (under certain circumstances) become its opposite.

The first lesson to be learned is that the things we take to be advantages are often no such thing. Our greatest mistake here comes from the fact that we identify a certai
...more
Ryan
Dec 09, 2013 Ryan rated it liked it
Chicken Soup for the Pop Psychologist's Soul. Or something like that.

The plural of anecdote is not data. And when Mr. Gladwell has a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That is, he is a very persuasive writer, but ultimately I'm not really convinced about all of his conclusions. Do I need to point out that as social science goes, this is heavy on the social and light on the science? You probably already knew that.

Anyway, I did enjoy this one. Everyone loves an underdog. And I enjoyed his retel
...more
Mehrsa
Dec 03, 2013 Mehrsa rated it really liked it
As with everything Gladwell, this book is a fun and fast read that is not at all careful with its conclusions. It's not careful scholarship, but Gladwell doesn't claim it to me. In other words, he tells a story with great anecdotes and some data that doesn't always support the point he is making. However, I believe the point he is making in David and Goliath (that underdogs can have hidden strengths and that trials and tragedy can lead to strong character). The point is valid and the stories are ...more
Erika Daniels
I was not impressed. Although I have liked Gladwell's other books, this one was a miss. While I recognize that he finds empirical studies to support the central ideas of his books and am generally okay with that, he went too far with David and Goliath. It was clear that he had a conviction that he wanted to persuade others to adopt and the stories in the book were chosen for that purpose. That part was expected and understandable; the part I couldn't get past was that I have read many of the stu ...more
Mohamed al-Jamri
Jan 17, 2016 Mohamed al-Jamri rated it really liked it
اقترح هذا الكتاب أحد بروفيسورات جامعتي في احدى محاضراته مؤخراً، ولذلك اقنعت ضميري بأنه لا بأس من التوقف عن المذاكرة قليلاً حتى إتمام هذا الكتاب والذي لا يتجاوز طوله الثلاث مئة صفحة أو سبع ساعات ككتاب مسموع. شجعتني أيضاً التقييمات الإيجابية التي سمعتها من بعض الأصدقاء لكتب أخرى لنفس الكاتب.

عنوان الكتاب هو داوود وجالوت وهي قصة موجودة في الإرث الديني للأديان الإبراهيمية (السماوية) تشير إلى انتصار الطرف الذي يبدو أضعف على الطرف الذي يبدو أقوى. يشير الكاتب منذ البداية على أن هذا الفهم للقصة خاطىء، فا
...more
Mal Warwick
Oct 22, 2013 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Malcolm Gladwell Surprises Again

Ever since I read Malcolm Gladwell’s breakthrough book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, I’ve been unable to resist any new book from this most devilishly clever of nonfiction writers. Gladwell’s mind doesn’t seem to work the way mine does, and, unless you’re remarkably eccentric, I suspect the same could be said of you.

David and Goliath is an excellent case in point. You might assume, as I so naturally did, that the Biblical tale of
...more
S.Baqer Al-Meshqab
Jul 17, 2016 S.Baqer Al-Meshqab rated it really liked it
The art of storytelling is quite powerful, especially - perhaps for history freaks like me - if it demonstrates an event from ancient times to deliver and idea in the most interesting and outstanding way.

The Event: The war between the Israelites and the Philistines, in the the valley of Elah, during which a Confrontation between David - a young small weak looking boy - and Goliath - a fearsome giant, took place and marked an end of an era, and a start of a legend. Naturally, one would think tha
...more
Yukari Watanabe
Oct 01, 2013 Yukari Watanabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As you can guess from the title, this is the book about how underdogs break the rules and defeat the privileged. As usual, Gladwell introduced many interesting examples to show his points.

The story I liked best was the one about the middle school girl basketball team coached by an Indian businessman Vivek Ranadivé. Ranadivé knew nothing about basketball and his team was made up with short nerdy girls. But he managed to bring his team to the national championship. Gladwell explained the strategie
...more
J.F. Penn
Dec 04, 2013 J.F. Penn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting essays from Gladwell about how the underdog can win, but MORE about the way we believe certain things to be true, but they're actually not.
For example, David would always have beat Goliath as he broke the rules of 1:1 combat, choosing a weapon equivalent to a gun over a sword. It was essentially an unfair fight - but we celebrate David's winning against the odds, when in fact, we should celebrate breaking the rules and winning that way. There's a lot about the misconceptions around
...more
Amanda Patterson
Oct 31, 2013 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Malcolm Gladwell shows why you don't always have to be Goliath to win. He explains why places such as a rebellious Northern Ireland, London during the Blitz, Birmingham in the American Civil Rights Movement, and a small town in Nazi occupied France, were able to triumph over stronger opponents.
We meet remarkable underdogs like Jay Freireich, the doctor who revolutionised treatment for children with leukaemia, and David Boies, a dyslexic trial attorney, who shouldn't have triumphed but did.
Glad
...more
Sarah
Sep 04, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club-reads
This is the kind of book I would normally dismiss immediately, but as a book club pick I gave it a shot.

I started with a sample on my kindle, but after falling asleep several times reading that I transitioned to audio-book so I could listen while driving.

At about 3 chapters in, I wanted to quit. Both the content and the style of writing were the opposite of interesting to me.

Obviously the author is trying to make a point and I understood that all of the anecdotal comparisons should be leading
...more
Makiko Shinoda
Oct 08, 2013 Makiko Shinoda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was really hard to put down the book once I started reading. Malcolm Gladwell is such a great storyteller. I especially enjoyed how he combines and structures several episodes to sculpture the point he wants to get across, and the how vividly he portrays each character.

The theme of the book is thought provoking. How do Davids of the world overcome obstacles, and the Goliaths be vulnerable to the underdog at times? I was especially impressed by the emerging thesis in the last one third of the
...more
Peter Meyers
Dec 03, 2013 Peter Meyers rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of the year.

What the world says is "best" isn't always whats best. Choose your goals and the rules that govern your life wisely. Try to focus on the bigger picture.
Otherwise you'll never see anything but how tall your problems are. Instead of how deadly your weapons are.

I went from nearly being a High School drop out to graduating from ASU with an electrical engineering degree. I watched dozens of kids much smarter than I drop out or change majors because they got their first
...more
Steve Greenleaf
Nov 12, 2013 Steve Greenleaf rated it really liked it
Let me ask you a series of questions:

Can a team with only mediocre offensive skills and limited physical gifts regularly beat teams that are more talented?

Are larger classes sometimes better for learning than smaller ones?

Might an accomplished young woman interested in science find career success by attending a state university instead of the Ivy League school that admitted her?

Might a guy with dyslexia (a serious disorder that affects reading ability) do well in a legal career?

Can a physician w
...more
Caidyn
This is, quite possibly, the best nonfiction book I've read yet this year.

It carries on in the same strain as What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question, another book I greatly enjoyed listening to while at work. Really, it's a short collection of different stories that are then applied to two core ideas. One, that the powerful and strong perhaps aren't as strong and powerful as they seem. And, two, what most would call a disadvantage may actually
...more
Andrew Huff
I have mixed feeling about this one. As he usually does, Gladwell finds some fascinating life case studies to look at. As for proving his thesis though, it just doesn't feel as successful as some of his other work.

While the idea that advantages and disadvantages are not always what they appear to be is an intriguing one, I found myself asking over and over is Gladwell proving that thesis or just providing some exceptionable examples of where that is not always the case.

I think the chapter on dys
...more
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Malcolm Gladwell is a United Kingdom-born, Canadian-raised journalist now based in New York City. He is a former business and science writer at the Washington Post. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He is best known as the author of the books The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Outliers ...more
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“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.” 83 likes
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.” 52 likes
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