Friday, January 16, 2015

[Book Review] David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell


Phillip reviews DAVID AND GOLIATH: UNDERDOGS, MISFITS, AND THE ART OF BATTLING GIANTS by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company, 2013)
If you enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s previous books, The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, you will enjoy David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants.  It is just as interesting, thought-provoking and engrossing.
David and Goliath deals with Gladwell’s exploration of the nature of the underdog and how many people faced with what would seem insurmountable challenges find ways to overcome them.  One of Gladwell’s main points is that someone who is perceived to be the underdog may not be the underdog at all.
Gladwell offers his analysis of the classic underdog story, that of David and Goliath from the Bible.  Gladwell offers a compelling case as to why it was David who had the advantage over Goliath and that it was really a foregone conclusion that David would defeat Goliath.
He explores the cases of people who have dyslexia, the brain disorder that prevents a person from being able to read at all or only with great difficulty.   Not really being able to read should have kept David Boies from even going to law school, much less being able to practice law, but Boies is now one of the most famous trial lawyers in the world.  His way of overcoming his dyslexia was to develop extraordinary listening skills, and Gladwell also tells how other dyslexics overcame their challenges to become great successes.
Gladwell also talks of how Dr. Martin Luther King and his team faced an entrenched segregated society in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, when they fought for the civil rights of Black people there. King and his team were up against Eugene “Bull” O’Connor, the powerful Public Safety Commissioner who had the will and power to block any attempts to end segregation in Birmingham.  King faced what seemed overwhelming odds but in the end he and his team, using creative and unorthodox strategies, were able to strike a blow for the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham.
Gladwell offers other fascinating accounts of people who faced other, different kinds of challenges, who seemingly should have failed in life but did not.  Gladwell offers the reasons why they did not fail and instead prevailed.
A truly fascinating book and one which many readers I am certain could not put down.
Philip Williams, Cordova Library

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