Ellen the librarian, January 10, 2010 (view all comments by Ellen the librarian)
Gladwell's highly readable narrative opened a door for me to look at events in our lives in an entirely different way. Engaging stories illustrate ideas about fate, luck and coincidence versus hard work, and the role culture plays in communication. The book reminds me, as a person who advocates for youth, that every encounter between an adult and a young person can be life-changing.
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purplerme, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by purplerme)
This book is actually about statistics (Yuck!), but Gladwell does it so well that you don't realize that is what you are learning about! So many amazing concepts presented in such a readable and enjoyable way: stories! I could not put it down!
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Little Brown and Company -
by Chris Bolton,
If you've ever wondered what so-and-so had that you didn't, you need to read Outliers. Gladwell's writing is always engaging, especially when he illuminates the mysterious elements that allow one person to succeed beyond all others.
by Chris Bolton
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Outliers begins with a provocative look at why certain five-year-old boys enjoy an advantage in ice hockey, and how these advantages accumulate over time. We learn what Bill Gates, the Beatles and Mozart had in common: along with talent and ambition, each enjoyed an unusual opportunity to intensively cultivate a skill that allowed them to rise above their peers. A detailed investigation of the unique culture and skills of Eastern European Jewish immigrants persuasively explains their rise in 20th-century New York, first in the garment trade and then in the legal profession. Through case studies ranging from Canadian junior hockey champions to the robber barons of the Gilded Age, from Asian math whizzes to software entrepreneurs to the rise of his own family in Jamaica, Gladwell tears down the myth of individual merit to explore how culture, circumstance, timing, birth and luck account for success — and how historical legacies can hold others back despite ample individual gifts. Even as we know how many of these stories end, Gladwell restores the suspense and serendipity to these narratives that make them fresh and surprising.One hazard of this genre is glibness. In seeking to understand why Asian children score higher on math tests, Gladwell explores the persistence and painstaking labor required to cultivate rice as it has been done in East Asia for thousands of years; though fascinating in its details, the study does not prove that a rice-growing heritage explains math prowess, as Gladwell asserts. Another pitfall is the urge to state the obvious: 'No one,' Gladwell concludes in a chapter comparing a high-IQ failure named Chris Langan with the brilliantly successful J. Robert Oppenheimer, 'not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.' But who in this day and age believes that a high intelligence quotient in itself promises success? In structuring his book against that assumption, Gladwell has set up a decidedly flimsy straw man. In the end it is the seemingly airtight nature of Gladwell's arguments that works against him. His conclusions are built almost exclusively on the findings of others — sociologists, psychologists, economists, historians — yet he rarely delves into the methodology behind those studies. And he is free to cherry-pick those cases that best illustrate his points; one is always left wondering about the data he evaluated and rejected because it did not support his argument, or perhaps contradicted it altogether. Real life is seldom as neat as it appears in a Malcolm Gladwell book. Leslie T. Chang is the author of Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China (Spiegel & Grau). Take a trip to New Delhi or New Jersey — or even back in time — with these lavish photography books." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Jonah Raskin, San Francisco Chronicle,
"Part psychologist, part sociologist and investigative reporter, Gladwell tells intriguing tales about people who overcome adversity: children of Jewish immigrants; talented musicians from the back streets of Liverpool, England; and flight attendants from Korea. With relentless curiosity and a keen fascination with significant details, he focuses on trends and illuminates the larger lessons he wants everyone to learn. Jargon never rears its head, which in part explains his enduring popularity." (read the entire San Francisco Chronicle review)
"Review A Day"
by Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic,
"Outliers argues that American society has a limited and misleading understanding of how and why people succeed. Gladwell never precisely defines what he means by "success," but most of his examples center on people who have risen to great heights in their professional careers. His book adopts the classical reassurances of the self-help line about the irrelevance of personal endowments and talents — indeed, it goes so far in its rejection of the power of individual intellect that it becomes itself an exercise in anti-intellectualism." (read the entire New Republic review)
by Entertainment Weekly,
"Outliers is riveting science, self-help, and entertainment, all in one book. (Grade: A)"
by The Christian Science Monitor,
"Thought-provoking, entertaining, and irresistibly debatable, Outliers offers lively stories about an unexpected range of exceptional people....Overall, it's another winner from this agile social observer."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"[T]he author's lively storytelling and infectious enthusiasm make it an engaging, perhaps even inspiring, read. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser."
by Library Journal,
"Following a format similar to his previous books, Gladwell gloms onto an apparent phenomenon...and offers what we're all apparently supposed to believe are startlingly logical explanations for why they stand out....It's all very readable, but not particularly surprising."
by The Boston Globe,
"Ultimately, Outliers is a book about the 20th century. It offers a fascinating look at how certain people became successful, but it doesn't solve the problem of how to help others equal their achievement."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"The book, which purports to explain the real reason some people — like Bill Gates and the Beatles — are successful, is peppy, brightly written and provocative in a buzzy sort of way. It is also glib, poorly reasoned and thoroughly unconvincing."
Gladwell embarks on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers" — the best and the brightest and the most successful. He investigates what makes high-achievers different by looking at their culture, family, generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
A rigorous and inspiring survey of the workings of creative pairings that shows us how great duos work together and how we can adapt their techniques in our own work and lives.
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