Here we are 10 weeks since I started ‘A Book A Week Challenge’, I am able accomplish a small milestone of reading ten books. It is an occasion to celebrate for me personally because of the fact that no week was skipped in between. I would probably want to reward myself with a weeklong break. But, reading is now more of a habit than a hobby. So, I should keep going.
Stephen J. Dubner and Seven Levitt did it first (in the order of my reading) in their best-selling book ‘Freakonomics’, Randall Munroe in all his three books and Malcolm Gladwell, himself did it in all of his previous books. I am talking about ‘Hypothesis driven books’ (if there was ever a term used like this). But, the objective of these books is pretty clear. There are multiple hypotheses proposed with a single underlying theme and different chapters in the book were allocated to support or reject these hypotheses.
You just have to sit back and read through the analysis or cases to take your personal stance either for or against the hypothesis the author is trying to propose. The more hypothesis you agree with, the effective is the writing.
Malcolm Gladwell in his latest book ‘David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and The Art of Battling Giants’ proposes some of brilliant hypotheses but not as much convincing cases.
Title: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and The Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
As once said by a famous film maker “The regular normal stories are boring to me. I always look out for those exceptions from the rule or those misfits who make stories really interesting” Malcolm Gladwell would have agreed with him so much as to write a whole book fitting that theme.
‘David and Goliath’ has a single point agenda to prove how wrong we were so far on our judgmental perceptions on how we look at Giants and Underdogs. More often than not, we support “The Giant” because they have the skill, potential and strength to handle crisis. But, there would always be some part of us who would wish for “that surprise” upset from Underdogs, not because we know they have big heart but to satisfy our own self egos.
There is a quote from the movie which I saw recently “People sympathize with the deer and hope that it would escape that chase from tiger. It is not because we feel for the deer. But, because we cannot do anything about the tiger and its failure gives that false satisfaction”
Malcolm Gladwell takes a counter stance and suggests the Giants receive those setbacks due to our misclassified definition of ‘Advantages’ vs. ‘Disadvantages’.
Like all his previous books and highly criticized previous book ‘Outliers’, Malcolm Gladwell takes real life examples and scenarios to make his case for the proposed hypotheses. But, the style of writing has now gone stale and you exactly get what you expect or sometimes even less from the book taking the excitement out of your reading.
Three points and Nine chapters to explain two basic fundamentals – How we misunderstand ‘advantage’ and why those with inherent ‘disadvantage’ make it big in their careers.
Here is my interpretation or learning from the chapters in this book:
The theme of the book: “The strong ones are not as strong as we believe they are and the weaker ones are not as weak as we think”
PART ONE – The Advantages of Disadvantage (And the disadvantages of advantage)
CHAPTER ONE – Vivek Randive (Software engineer turned basketball coach)
Hypothesis/Question: The high press defense from ‘short’ teams forces errors on ‘tall’ teams
CHAPTER TWO- Teresa De Barito (Principal of a Middle School)
Hypothesis/Question: What is the right class strength for effective academic learning experience?
CHAPTER THREE- Caroline Sacks (College Student)
Hypothesis/Question: “Big Pond- Small Fish vs. Small Pond- Big Fish”
PART TWO – The Theory of Desirable Difficulty
CHAPTER FOUR- David Bowies (Lawyer)
Hypothesis/Question: Dyslexia as a child makes you a great learner or a successful individual?
CHAPTER FIVE- Emil “Jay” Freireich (Scientist)
Hypothesis/Question: Lack of parent support as child makes you ready for the bad world
CHAPTER SIX- Wyatt Walker (Baptist Minister)
Hypothesis/Question: Can an event as simple as a photograph change the course of whole history?
PART THREE- The Limits of Power
CHAPTER SEVEN- Rosemary Lawlor (Beloved Wife)
Hypothesis/Question: Is conditional discipline a good or a bad strategy?
CHAPTER EIGHT- Wilma Derksen (Happy Mother)
Hypothesis/Question: Does accomplishments drive your power? Or is forgiveness the biggest power?
CHAPTER NINE- Andre Trocme (Pastor)
Hypothesis/Question: It never really dawned upon us if helping Jews was a crime at all. Shouldn’t there be universal acceptance.
Having read three of his previous books, ‘The Tipping Point’, ‘Blink’ and ‘Outlier’, I was so looking forward to this book. But, Malcolm Gladwell’s writing gets bit stale and occasionally unconvincing. He had some brilliant hypothesis to be tested but they were not efficiently backed by the case studies. There were more instances that you contradict than agree which makes a strong case against loving this book.
Reading Recommendation: Chapter summaries should be sufficient.