David and Goliath

{5/5} “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell, published in 2013

The story of David and Goliath is always told in a way that suggests that David’s victory over Goliath was surprising. But what if there’s another way to look at it? Gladwell brings his unique way of looking at the world and clear language to the concept that the underdog might not always be the underdog. He talks about a basketball team that won despite a coach that didn’t know anything about the sport and players who weren’t particularly skilled. He talks about Lawrence of Arabia, whose army of Bedouins won victories over the Turks because they did unexpected things. He talks about class sizes, and being a big fish in a small pond versus a small fish in a big pond.

The three parts of the book are: the advantages of disadvantages (and the disadvantages of advantages), the theory of desirable difficulty, and the limits of power.

As always, Gladwell explains things you should know — you should read his books. He finds things that are counter-intuitive and shows you the research to demonstrate that they’re true. While perhaps not quite as iconic as The Tipping Point or Outliers, David and Goliath is another book filled with interesting, useful, and important stories.

I previously reviewed Gladwell’s book What the Dog Saw.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 25th, 2015 at 9:41 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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