With the realization that I do not possess the qualifications to critique any author’s work, I humbly provide my own personal insights on my latest endeavor into the wonderful world of books. A second caveat I should address is that I am not a voracious reader. I do enjoy it, but it isn’t something that keeps me up into the early morning hours depriving me of sleep because I just can’t put the book down. Like a “social drinker” I would classify myself as a “social reader”. I often read popular NY Times Best Sellers or books that get a lot of press. In a year I may read between 15-20 books. I say all this so you can take with a grain of salt my opinion on what I read.
In my current library is Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Golliath. I previously read two of his other books, Tipping Point and Outliers. I thought they were thought provoking and provided a different insight into social behavior that makes you think a bit deeper. So when I saw him plug his latest book on the Jon Stewart Show and CBS Sunday Morning (which I thought the exposé they did on him and his eccentric life was pretty good) I quickly picked it up. It didn’t hurt that the eBook was only $7.50!
The book’s aim is to show how those who have faced some significantly impossible challenge used them for their personal benefit to reach great success. Further, the thesis (in my opinion) is that sometimes debilitating obstacles can lead one to thrive even bigger, stronger and better had they not had that obstacle.
After reading all the case studies and explanations I don’t walk away from this book feeling like anything has been proven or at least that any themes emerged. For every person that used some obstacle, challenge, sickness, tragedy to become great there are many others who crumble and fall apart. And for every person who used those challenges to become great there are many others who did so in the absence of any major catastrophe to propel them forward.
So while I thought the book was interesting and I wouldn’t recommend “not” reading it, I felt like it was a collection of interesting case studies to see how a select few people took their obstacles and manipulated them for their personal gain and not anything more than that. I am sure that Gladwell isn’t naïve and that he wasn’t intending to draw any major themes. I was just expecting some revelation about human behavior when I read this book and I just didn’t get that.