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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,021 ratings  ·  371 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
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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4.18  · 
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 ·  3,021 ratings  ·  371 reviews

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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, argu
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.


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 resp
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
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways
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
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.
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
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, parents who didn't have their children excelling at, say, playing the obo by kindergarten were failures. And don't even get me started on those parents who failed to to raise chess gran ...more
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 th ...more
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
Bjoern Rochel
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eng-mgmt, 2019
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 astro
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 t ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very refreshing book on the limits of hyperspecialization.
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.
Erik Germani
Like a Gladwell book, Range has a bunch of scientific anecdotes that would do well at a cocktail party. Which is perfect, because the warmly parental thesis statement is one that anyone will drink to. To wit: "don't worry if you aren't hyperspecialized, there's value in being a generalist." I found that advice timely, but the self-improvement monster in me didn't find a lot of red meat in here. Once I came to grips with that, I enjoyed the anecdotes for what they were. Here's a fun one: Finnish ...more
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
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Experience is never wasted

I found this riveting in all the best ways non-fiction can be: extremely readable, endlessly fascinating, thought provoking, leaves a lasting impression and you see the world a little differently on the other side of it - things once in darkness are illuminated.
Personally, Epstein made me feel comforted that all was not lost if i hadn't completed my 10,000 hours in a highly specified domain by now and that a gradual whittling of specialism, rather than a laser focus fr
3.5 stars. This ended up being very interesting and engaging. It definitely gave me a lot to think about, more than the typical pop psychology book. The author weirdly inserts himself in a few places and it wasn't really seamless in those areas, but he did do a good job of telling engaging stories. I think this book will change how I go about learning things in the future.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Specialization. Expected by bosses, parents and university faculties. But does it work? There seems to be good scientific evidence to the contrary. Dabble in everything. Follow your curiosity. Leads to discoveries and is antifragile. Much recommended book by a great science journalist.
Prashant Ghabak
A very counter-intuitive take on career and skills. The core argument of the book is that though humans are moving more and more towards hyper-specialization, a lot of advances and innovations happen at boundaries of fields and from outsiders who are non-specialists. Some really compelling examples.
Pop science / pop psych so take with a grain of salt, but it's a nice corrective to the current idea that early specialization is a must for success. I loved the idea as well that specialization and deep within-domain expertise works best in "kind worlds" where there are consistent rules, lots of repetitions, and lots of quick feedback. Thought provoking; I'll want to come back to this in a few years I think.
Stefan Bruun
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting perspectives on the many roads to excellence and a break with the traditional view of hyper-specialization.
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
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As eye and ear catching as a Malcolm Gladwell book, but better researched and far, far more conscientious than any Gladwell I've ever read. Epstein, who comes to this book from journalism, in particular sports journalism, writes a series of brilliant articles, loosely coupled into a book, with a common theme of the benefits of general knowledge, experimentation and persistence, and change.
Christian Sodergren
Lots of great stories but unsatisfying when it comes to making a claim for the central thesis.
The Artisan Geek
A someone who has always considered themselves a generalist through and through, I am really interested to have a read! Riverhead books was so nice to send me over a copy, so a sincere thank you to them! :D

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Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many books in this category of positive work research, the majority of the times it's applicable in the first world. Now the disclaimer aside, this book is great on the current timeline that we are living in right now, especially for the target audience of this book. We must reach out of comfort zone in the realms of learning! I cannot stress this enough, people in silicon valley has very little appreciation for philosophy and the humanities for example, like the author's said on Steve Job' ...more
Isabella Zink
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of popular science books, and this was definitely one of the more interesting ones. Not only did I actually learn a lot of new information (many of the other books I’ve read cover the same studies), on a personal note it definitely brought some relief for my own anxieties.

I’m one of the those people who seems to switch interests at the drop of a hat, although if you look closely you can see how they are related. When I read Duckworth’s Grit , I questioned whether or not I was a gr
An enjoyable book - plenty of fascinating stories/studies and Epstein demonstrates plenty of range of his own (I enjoyed his earlier Sports Gene, but this book goes far beyond the world of sports, even if it starts there). I think there are two different books packed in here - one provides examples of people who have developed breadth thriving in different fields and explores some of the contours of what that looks like, and the sorts of "wicked" world (disordered, unpredictable) where that rang ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, advocating for more generalism in education, science, and other bastions of silo-ism and reductionism. It is a good antidote to Nichol's The Death of Expertise.

"Beneath complexity, hedgehogs tend to see simple, deterministic rules of cause and effect framed by their area of expertise, like repeating patterns on a chessboard. Foxes see complexity in what others mistake for simple cause and effect. They understand that most cause-and-effect relationships are probabilistic, not
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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.” 6 likes
“We learn who we are in practice, not in theory.” 6 likes
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