Monday, June 23, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell Does It Again - Review of "David And Goliath"

I have been a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell's writing since "Tipping Point" managed to engage me and intrigue me.  "David And Goliath" is another success - taking a familiar topic and showing aspects of that topic in a new light.  In this case the topic at hand is the age-old struggle of Underdogs vs. Giants.

In his usual manner, Mr. Gladwell bolsters his central argument - that Davids often have hidden advantages when battling Goliaths  - with fascinating examples from a wide variety of fields.  He demonstrates how an undermanned group of Catholics in Belfast, Northern Ireland managed to break the curfew imposed by the powerful British Army.  He shows how Martin Luther King, Jr. and local Civil Rights leaders in Birmingham, Alabama managed to out-fox (or out-rabbit) Bull Connor and his police dogs.  He describes in gripping detail how a well organized group of French Huguenots managed to rescue thousands of Jews under the noses of the Nazis and the collaborating Vichy government.

As is often the case with a Gladwell book, many of his examples are counter-intuitive - why choosing to attend the University of Maryland rather than the prestigious Ivy League Brown University may have been a better choice for a fledgling scientist.  As he often does, the author takes threads that seem distinct from one another and weaves them together into a rich tapestry of myriad Davids besting Goliaths in many places around the world and in a broad variety of circumstances.

I am already figuring out to whom I will give copies of this book.



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