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Outliers: The Story of Success

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  689,410 ratings  ·  29,738 reviews
Learn what sets high achievers apart -- from Bill Gates to the Beatles -- in this #1 bestseller from "a singular talent" (New York Times Book Review).

In this stunning 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
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published November 18th 2008 by Little, Brown and Company
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Aurélien Thomas Well, there's no prescriptive component because, that's not the point of the author to provide one. What he is doing here is, trying to find out what …moreWell, there's no prescriptive component because, that's not the point of the author to provide one. What he is doing here is, trying to find out what differentiate great successes ('outliers') from other successful endeavours. His argument might seem naïve at first (I had a bit of a trouble swallowing it) but, his multiple examples are quite convincing in the end. Actually, keeping with that line of thinking that is, hard work and golden opportunities -helping to work even harder- serving people coming out of age right at the time when a society is ripe for their so hardly won skills, we can find even more examples. What about the astronauts having pioneered the space age? Same pattern. I am sure we can find more! (less)

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Dec 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, political
Gladwell argues that success is tightly married to opportunity and time on task. He states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master something and that gives me comfort. It helps me feel better about my many failures at initial attempts to master things (like glazing pottery, algebra, Salsa dancing, skiing and sewing... to name a few). I kept thinking, "I've just got to put in more hours if I want to do better."

While I can see a different way of spinning the data provided to support Gl
Bill Kerwin
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was ok

When I think about Malcolm Gladwell, the first phrase that comes to mind is "less than meets the eye."

At first glance, his work seems thoroughly researched, even visionary at times. Beginning with a few maverick, counter-intuitive insights, he often ends with an affirmation of consensus, but it is a consensus that has been broadened by investigation and enriched by nuance.

On second look, however, I'm no longer sure any of this is true. What first appeared to be new insights are nothing but fami
I know, you don’t think you have the time and there are other and more important books to read at the moment, but be warned, you do need to read this book.

There are a number of ways I can tell a book will be good; one of those ways is if Graham has recommended it to me (how am I going to cope without our lunches together, mate?). And there is basically one way for me to I know that I’ve really enjoyed a book, and that is if I keep telling people about it over and over again. Well, not since Pred
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Didn't exactly read this book - Joe and I listened to it in the car on the way home from visiting family for Christmas. I really enjoyed it, and was very fascinated by certain parts of it, especially the sections about the Beatles, computer programmers and Korean co-pilots.

But my enjoyment of the book was marred by the glaring absence of any well-known female "outliers." By chapter four or so, I noticed it and mentioned it to Joe, and then it just kept getting worse to the point that it was comi
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Occasionally insightful, but Gladwell's science is pretty junky. His reasons for success change by the page. And he cherry-picks examples to exactly fit the scheme under consideration. Plus, he's obsessed with callbacks and summary statements that only showcase the faulty connections between ideas. ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture-society
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2008 rated it liked it
I can save you the trouble of reading the book: smart people don't automatically become successful, they do so because they got lucky. This rule applies to everyone including the likes of Bill Gates and Robert Oppenheimer. That's it. That's what the whole book is about. Gladwell looks at case after case of this: Canadian hockey players, Korean airline pilots, poor kids in the Bronx, Jewish lawyers, etc... Even with all this evidence it feels like he's pulling in examples that fit his theory and ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Outliers : the story of success, Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers has been described as a form of autobiography, as Gladwell mixes in elements from his own life into the book to give it a more personal touch. 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
Sep 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
The Banality of Neoliberalism

1) Sloppy methodology:
--Let's take a gentle start. Even a lottery has real people winning it. If your methodology is to only examine the winners (and bypass the structure of the lottery system), then you can surely come up with some highly entertaining (and biased) results!
--If used with good intentions, the whole point of study designs/methodologies and statistics is to analyze the chaotic noise of the real world without getting distracted by human heuristics/biase
Tharindu Dissanayake
"This is not a book about tall trees. It's a book about forests."
"Why are manhole covers round?"

This is my second Gladwell book - The Tipping Point being first - and after reading it, I'm still a little confused what to make of it. I originally thought this to be a self-improvement kind of book, but quickly figured that's not the case, then may be some sort of a business development one, which also fell apart quickly. I cannot round off this any closer than to some kind of a sociology - psycholo
Sep 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Malcolm Gladwell writes very interesting and entertaining books. J.R.R. Tolkein writes very interesting and entertaining books as well. However, after reading Tolkein, I did not venture out into the world in search of hobbits, dwarves and elves to be my new friends, or worry about being attacked by trolls. Tolkein's books, while entertaining, have little connection to reality. Unfortunately, the same can be said about Gladwell. "Outliers" is a series of well-written and interesting essays along ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
People are criticizing this book because it is not a journal article. Well guess what: we're not all sociologists. I have read plenty of journal articles in my own field (law). I'm in no position to read journal articles in fields outside my own. Having a well-written piece of mass-market writing is just the thing I need to access this information.

Another criticism of the book is that Gladwell is the "master of the anecdote." Well, it seems to me that ALL SOCIAL SCIENCE is in some sense anecdota
Michael Perkins
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: overrated
The term I've coined for books such as these is "the illusion of erudition."

We love the anecdotes, many a form of comfirmation bias---the author telling us what we want to hear (cha-ching)---and we feel oh so much wiser once the wheels of the plane touch down on the runway at our destination because of having read a book such as this on our flight.


The famous, or infamous concept of the 10,000 "rule" in this book is not real. In a 2012 paper in the British Jou
Henry Mishkoff
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Well, it's official: Malcolm Gladwell has run out of things to say.

His prose is still lively and entertaining, and he maintains his famous I-look-at-things-differently-than-anyone-else attitude, but "Outliers" has so little meat that it would have more appropriately been published as a magazine article.

I think that the main value of reading Gladwell is that he plants a seed in your brain that encourages you to seek unconventional explanations for familiar phenomena. That's a very healthy thing,
Amir Tesla
Oct 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: productivity, success
Recommend to: If you like exploring phenomenon beyond their appearance and if you enjoy story-telling writings about factual subjects, here: success

What this book is about: Here, the famous columnist, Malcolm Gladwell deeply investigates the topic of success and people or nations with far beyond average achievements whom he calls "outliers" to figure out what has contributed to their accomplishments.

The way Gladwell observes and concludes is so enticing and far different from what you might
Dec 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Here's what I wrote earlier. I have to admit to the more I think and talk about the book, the less I think of it. It all seems too superficial.

A pretty interesting book, albeit with not quite as many "knock me over with a feather" moments as Blink. It starts off with a bang, as he discusses amateur hockey teams and how it was noticed that virtually all the players on an Under-18 hockey team came from the first three months of the year. Turns out the age cutoff is January 1 in Canada, so the olde
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ever wondered why Bill Gates is so rich? Or why the Beatles is considered to be a "once in a millennium" band? (or why people find "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" to be so trippy, lol) Or simply, why some people are so outrageously successful while others wallow in mediocrity?

An enthralling psychology novel by Malcolm Gladwell, "Outliers" reveals the secrets behind the success of some of the most famous people in the world. The book, with its sublime delivery and almost fantastical (though real)
May 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, for-kindle
I skimmed this book instead of reading it. I didn’t entirely love it.

Although the author makes some interesting points, I find some of the correlations he tries to draw a little silly. Like the Italian community in Pennsylvania where people are healthier and live longer because they have a sense of “community” or the fact that Southerners react more violently to certain situations than Northerners because they derive from a “culture of honor.” Sounds like extrapolated horseshit to me, especially
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2013
Outliers. Or as it should be called, "Outliers don't exist." I not only couldn't put it down, but my wife feels like she's read it now too.

It starts with a story about a town whose inhabitants only ever die from old age (i.e., not from cancer or ANY OTHER problem) and quickly goes into a story about hockey players in Canada.

For some reason the best hockey players are born in January through March and rarely any time after. The reason - it's all because of the date of the cut-off for playing hoc
Julie G
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In just one week, this book transformed a relatively normal woman into someone who's been saying, "Well, in this book I'm reading. . . you know, Outliers? Yeah, there's this section on. . . there's this part about. . . You should read this chapter. . . No, no, just wait here and let me read these 3 pages out loud for you. . . Have you read it? Oh, you haven't? Let me just show you this one page, it'll just take a minute!"

I can't think of one reason why you shouldn't join me in my enthusiasm.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
"If only I'd read this book earlier," the old man sighed. He shook his head sadly. "I was at the wrong end of the cut-off age. I'd have made a champion swimmer...". His voice trailed off.
He sighed again. "Then there's this 10000 hour rule. What the hell am I supposed to do about it now? The only thing I have 10000 hours practice is of scrunching my nose when my wife farts. And even that is more due to habit now. You get used to the smell pretty quickly." He shook his head again. "It's the
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all non-fiction fans
Recommended to Claudia by: Bob and Shirley
Shelves: nonfiction
"Outliers" those wildly successful people, for whom 'normal rules don't apply.' Are they just lucky, talented? Maybe...but, outliers may not be outliers after all...after reading the entire book, I was slapped by that at the very end. Gladwell looks closely at success, and those who seem to have waltzed into incredible success...Canadian hockey players, who just happened to have been born in the right month of the year; Bill Gates, who just happened to go to a school where the PTA moms bought a ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Here is my animated review!

Animated Book Review


This book made me think about the advantages and disadvantages connected to the birth date, place and few other things most kids can't change.
One of the finest book I have read this year.

How exactly does this work? How do some people achieve more, while others don’t even get the opportunity?

The fascinating analysis of the American Football(Rugby) team gave me a new way to look at the system. Most American Football players are born in the first 5 months of a Calender year.

I bet not.

I don’t want to spoil the fun, read the book to know more. 

The author tells numerous true stories of what appear to be shining examples of
I don't know about Malcolm Gladwell. I've read 3 of his books. All of them fine, but nothing special. All of them fairly superficial with nothing original or innovative. I think his books are very pop culture and should be read in the time frame (say within a year) that they are published. Too long after that and they become stale, not prolific or prescient. Gladwell is a very good and interesting writer, but I don't think his books have much depth or staying power.

Almost 3.5 Stars

Read on kindle
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
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Actual rating: 3.5 Stars

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

This year I have achieved my goal of reading at least 12 non-fiction books and I picked books that mostly talk about business, entrepreneurship and success! It is amusing how different authors interpreted success; some see it as the power of believing in something and it will happen as in the law of attraction. S
Jun 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
This one is a weird one for me to write, and I’ll explain why. Without being unnecessarily reductionist, I used to think that there were two types of reactions to Malcolm Gladwell: you either hate him or love him. This was an opinion informed by my own experiences, having finished an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and psychology (an area Gladwell lives and breathes in). Graduate students, professors, and my own peers would be quick to talk up or talk down Gladwell upon hearing the name of ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is one of those books that give popular nonfiction a bad name. Which is unfortunate, because what could be better than books that both educate and entertain? But Outliers embodies everything that people who sneer at the genre are talking about: its conclusions are both obvious and simplistic, its writing persuasive but glib. It’s easy to see why Gladwell is a popular author: he’s a good storyteller, his writing accessible and entertaining. But this book is so riddled with oversimplified con ...more
Kressel Housman
This has got to be Malcolm Gladwell’s best book yet, and coming from a fan like me, that’s saying something!

As the subtitle states, this is a book of success stories, and true to his usual style, Gladwell draws on a diverse and interesting set of examples and presents a unique thesis on the ingredients it takes to make a person a success. The first half of the equation is much like Carol Dweck’s thesis in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success . Hard work matters much more than raw talent. I
Riku Sayuj
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My first exposure to Gladwell. SO was more or les blown away by the ideas. Have grown more conservative in acceptance of his views as I have grown familiar with his topics through other books. But still an eminently quotable book.
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Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers—The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. He is also the co-founder of Pushkin Industries, an audio content company that produces the podcasts Revisionist History, which reconsiders things both overlooked and misunderstood, and Broken Record, where he, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam interview musici ...more

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