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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  7,437 ratings  ·  890 reviews
What's the most effective path to success in any domain? It's not what you think.

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But if
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Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  7,437 ratings  ·  890 reviews


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Mark
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclosure: I won this pre-release copy in a drawing from the publisher.

The book wasn't badly written, but for me it was something of a slog. I've enjoyed similar books in this genre more, the sort of pop-psychology-self-help mashup including books like "Willpower" (Baumeister/Tierney), "The Upside of Down" (McArdle), "The Power of Habit" (Duhigg), among others. There was nothing distracting in the style of "Range" that failed to work for me. But the presentation often left me wanting more,
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Michael Perkins
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the new U.S. Open golf winner illustrates part of the thesis of this book. A range of experience is sometimes better than over-specialization. In the book, Roger Federer is another example.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/17/sp...

=======================

This passage describes a key finding that is central to the book....

James Flynn, is a professor of political studies in New Zealand

Flynn’s great disappointment is the degree to which society, and particularly higher education, has
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Katie
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you.”

An incredibly slow read for me but I enjoyed it a lot and felt like I was on information overload after finishing each chapter. Who knew that so many case studies and anecdotes could support having breadth vs. depth of knowledge? The author of course nods to the fact that it’s important to have both kinds of people (generalists and specialists), but his argument is against the prevalent thinking that we should pick an
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Randall Wallace
I’ve staked my entire adult life on following the generalist’s path instead of the specialist’s, so I hoped this book would answer my basic questions: What about the role Neuroplasticity plays with keeping the following people analytically extra-sharp: The Polymath, the Multi-Instrumentalist, and those like Noam Chomsky, composer Elliot Carter, Aristotle, Leonard da Vinci, or Bertrand Russell all deeply learned in multiple fields (range), yet known for changing how we understand, hear, or see ...more
Mehrsa
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a useful mythbuster--grit, 10,000 hours, deliberate practice, tiger moms--this book says forget all of that (*sort of). Try lots of things, read broadly, and fail lots of times. I agree with this formula for success. Specialization is boring.

*I think there is something to being obsessive once you are in the right track. Once you figure out the project or sport, you need to focus. This doesn't go against the thesis of the book, but he wasn't explicit about it
Kobe Bryant
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-ideas
This book looks at how an emphasis on specialization can actually hamper our ability to really excel at something. It aligns with what I try to do when I am coaching, in my stories, and what we’re doing with Mamba Sports Academy—create all-around athletes who can think critically and make assessments in real time to enhance their play rather than rely only on a narrow set of skills.
Ryan
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After encountering the 10000 hours theory (Gladwell), the grit theory (Duckworth), and the Tiger Mom theory (Chua), it seemed obvious to many that we should specialize as much as possible and as early as possible. Because Tiger Woods was unusually athletic as an infant and his father had him golfing as a toddler, the thinking went, parents who didn't have their children excelling at playing chess or the obo at a soon-to-be-grandmaster level by kindergarten were failures. Range: Why Generalists ...more
Kimberly Dawn
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katy
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways
Tomas Ramanauskas
If you felt inferior, because you didn’t find your one true passion yet (at 30, at 40, at 50).
If you're going about life trying out new things, disciplines, professions, vocations.
If you're interested in too many things.
This book is for you.

RANGE talks about the power of breadth instead of depth. It doesn’t say depth in the field is not important, just that it is way overrated and drives “closed skills learning” tendency. Diverse experiences expand our creativity and innovative capabilities.
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Lou
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some non-fiction can be boring and even useless, but this is a work of non-fiction that everyone should read; I certainly got a lot out of it and feel many others will too. Offering a wide-ranging wealth of information and research Epstein shares data, as well as his opinion, on how to become and stay successful in a constantly evolving world. What surprised me a lot was how compulsively readable it was and despite being a work of non-fiction Epstein can sure engage you in an almost mesmerising ...more
Anmiryam
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone--butcher, baker, candlestick maker; teacher, student, scientist, business analyst; parent, job hunter, retiree--will get something motivating and useful from this book. No matter where you are in life, you will see the world a bit differently after you read this energetic and energizing look at how we solve problems, how we learn and how we succeed, regardless of what field we are working in. Seriously, I haven't stopped recommending this since I finished it several weeks ago. I don't ...more
A.G. Stranger
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's something to remember from this book:
"If you want it to stick, learning should be slow and hard, not quick and easy.
The professors who received positive feedback had a net negative effect on their students in the long run. In contrast, those professors who received worse feedback actually inspired better student performance later on."
Josh
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein is, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein is about the latter half of that quote. Range introduces the concept of wicked domains (or as I like to them, reality) where you are faced with imperfect information and erratic feedback yet must somehow still devine a solution, preferably a successful one. Furthermore, learning occurs mostly ...more
Annie
Aug 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 3.5 stars. The point of this book is that specialists do well in a "kind" world, where rules are clear and feedback is immediate (like playing golf or chess). Generalists do well in a "wicked" world, where rules are unclear or unknown and feedback is not immediate (like practicing medicine). Therefore, a cardiologist with a wider range of knowledge (like nutrition and physiology) would make a better doctor than one who is focused only on acquiring more technical knowledge about ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Covers the idea of having a wide range of knowledge outside one's specialty helps people succeed. Often new ideas come from thinking analogically about things unrelated to what one is looking at. Has lots of case studies that make the argument that having a wide range of experiences can help with one's endeavors.
R Nair
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best thing this book can teach you - practice does NOT make perfect.

Here's why-

Tons of books talk about how early specialization is the key to success in life and a majority of parents are seen pushing their kids into activities at an early age to give them that 'career advantage' later on in life. David Epstein trashes this idea so thoroughly in this book that I feel it should be mandatory reading for couples trying to have a baby.
Epstein starts off with the poster boy for early
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Bjoern Rochel
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, eng-mgmt
A good read in the style of "Team of Teams" or "Barking up the wrong tree".

Debunks the general applicability of the 10000h rule and deliberate practice for knowledge work (e.g. the wicked world) and shows with a lot of case studies that often top performers are the result of a larger broad experimentation phase, followed by late specialization.

I pretty much enjoyed all of them from Roger Federer, Vincent Van Gogh, Gunpei Yokoi (the Gameboy inventor), Johannes Kepler (the father of modern
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Shahrazad
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

It’s not easy to come across good Buisness/ psychology books as most seem empty not really leaving you with much. But that’s not the case for range, it frames concepts in interesting ways and supplements with engaging examples. Range advocates for breadth in skills, advising against the modern workplace stress for specialization.Trying and getting good at a variety of things eventually leaves people much better even at tasks that need ‘closed skills’ such as chess or violin .
When it
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Janssen
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was so fascinating, especially as a parent.
Mike Arvela
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this, with its numerous examples of how people have risen to shine in ways conventionally not considered possible. My only worry is that the reason I like it so much is because it validates what I already thought about how learning never is for nothing. In any case, recommend it already just for how it challenges many of our beliefs and intuitions.
Keyton
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
stormin
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This book was amazing. It was incredibly well-written, had mind-blowing information (all of which actually made sense and was heavily backed by research), and it's going to have a big impact on my life. Honestly, a couple of parts early on in the book almost made me cry because it was like someone telling me: It's OK, you haven't missed out on all your amazing life opportunities just because you didn't start training for them when you were 5.

So, here's the outline of the book.

The first chapter
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Kelly
Growing up, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I'd say either something super sarcastic or "nothing." Because the fact we expect people to know what they want to do for their lives before they're 18, 21, 25? Is bananas. You don't know who you are or what you like or don't like yet (add in that you need experience to GET experience in today's global economy and it makes it worse). So Epstein's premise is one I really agreed with already and I found his exploration of why ...more
Kim Elder
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books, 2019
In our increasingly complex world one is pushed to specialize early in regard to study and career and to follow the 10,000 rule when playing a sport, or learning a skill, such as playing an instrument. Epstein argues rather for broad interests and skills and late starts in specialization. There are certainly times for specialization and he does mention that, but his main thrust is supporting a generalist approach. He firmly supports his point with research and plenty of stories of successful ...more
Shobhit
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book resonated with me perfectly. In my profession (Software Development), there is an increasing demand for specialization. There are back end engineers, front end engineers, devops, data engineers, data scientists blah blah blah. I never felt comfortable with a label. The entire field of computer science is interesting for me. I also read a lot of books related to history, politics, biography, psychology, physics, philosophy and any well written book in general. I used to feel guilty for ...more
Amine
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very refreshing book on the limits of hyperspecialization.
Alison Jones
Stories of child prodigies are compelling, as is the 10,000-hour Rule: enough practice, Malcolm Gladwell argued, and anyone can master any skill. There’s a glorious simplicity in them, and we applaud the focus and dedication of these superhuman achievers. It can leave those of who us can’t lay claim to such single-minded commitment feeling like under-achievers. If you’re more of a generalist, if you try out lots of different sports or even careers, you can’t expect real success in any of them, ...more
Sugavanesh Balasubramanian
"For reasons I cannot explain, David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range"
- Malcolm Gladwell

reads the backcover of the book.

It started 5 years ago really, picking up Blink, and reading my first Malcolm Gladwell book talking about the power of intuition and what it actually is. The journey went through "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman questioning a lot of functional wisdom and how
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Pete
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Range : Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (2019) by David Epstein is an interesting book about the value of not being overly specialised and focused on one thing.

The book starts by pointing out how Tiger Woods took up golf at an early age and how this example is picked by many as an example of how mastery of a subject needs to be done. Epstein compares this to Roger Federer who played many sports before focusing on tennis. Epstein states, with some evidence, that stars like Federer
...more
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David Epstein is the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene, which has been translated in 21 languages. He has master's degrees in environmental science and journalism and has worked as an investigative reporter for ProPublica and a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He lives in Washington, DC.
“Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones. Our conceptual classification schemes provide a scaffolding for connecting knowledge, making it accessible and flexible.” 10 likes
“We learn who we are in practice, not in theory.” 10 likes
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