Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Rating: 7/10

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I once read a review of a Malcolm Gladwell book that stated something to the effect that the author could write a book titled "Grass is Green" and millions would read it and find it fascinating.

I see this statement not so much as a critique of the author's books, but rather as a compliment. Having read most of his books, I still find it fascinating how he can transform seemingly simple and common-sense ideas into enjoyable, fun reads. It takes a special kind of talent to do this. "David and Goliath" fits this model well and Malcolm Gladwell uses his characteristic book writing 'formula' very effectively. As usual, the main idea of the book is easy to understand and summarize. Basically, the main idea is that there are limits to power and that excessive or arbitrary power loses its legitimacy and efficacy. This provides opportunities to the "underdog", the David's of this world. Often being a 'David' actually gives you an advantage as 'misfits' and 'underdogs' tend to see the world differently and come-up with new ways of doing things.

The other idea in the book is the concept of the "U curve"; that many things in Nature do not continuously grow with increasing input, and that there is a maximum (or minimum) at which point the direction reverses. One of the most interesting examples illustrating this concept was the matter of classroom sizes. Most people will intuitively see that smaller class sizes lead to a better learning experience, but it is not as obvious that, below a certain size, too small a class can actually be bad for the learning experience. Another intesresting example was the case of punishment for criminal acts, and the whole death sentence debate.

I found this book an enjoyable, fun read; classic "Malcolm Gladwell" fare. This may not be his greatest work (I still rank "Outliers" as my favorite), but it is one of his best works in my opinion. For those that listen to this book in audio format, the author himself actually reads the book which, in this case, adds a lot to the enjoyment. Besides being an accomplished writer, Malcolm Gladwell is also an excellent narrator.

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