Malcolm Gladwell is one of the best journalists these days. His pieces on The New Yorker get a lot of reads, and for good reason. The man writes like no other, and he had a distinct way with words.
David and Goliath Summary
In David and Goliath, Gladwell uses age-old characters to tell us of different sociopolitical issues. He tackles innovation in this book, although it’s done in a different way. He tries to intertwine adversity with development-even if the setbacks are very difficult.
Gladwell tries to captivate readers by using war analogies, probably to call back to the David and Goliath tale. If you are the type to enjoy clever wordplay, this might click for you. There are plenty of phrases such as “near miss” and “direct blow.”
What is the meat of the discussion?
Gladwell even talks about the atrocities of war. He delves into the economic and social impacts of World War II. These history lessons painted a picture of how people had to change to move forward.
Even young children became part of the conversation. Difficult topics like orphanages and racism are tackled. Gladwell talks about how kids get directly affected by these prejudices.
The book then discusses the things people do to achieve a level of success. Gladwell talked about “tricksters,” those who “fake it until they make it.” These are the people who suffer from impostor syndrome.
One of the best stories in the book is about film producer Brian Grazer. Grazer is dyslexic, and gad a difficult journey throughout childhood. He persisted even in the face of adversity-a theme that runs throughout the book.
His humble beginnings as a mailroom worker is one of the brightest retellings in the book. It is a breath of fresh air against the more heavy topics, such as civil rights and religion. Although these are some intriguing concepts, they are not fleshed out.
For example, there was a story about a doctor that wanted to pursue the cure for childhood leukemia. The way that this disease manifests in kids is terrible. The doctor took it upon himself to look for a solution.
The doctor then had to make some difficult choices to enact his plans. He came up with the idea of some demanding tests-causing pain to many children. The experimentation took a dark turn.
The idea that pain was temporary is something that took hold in him. When executed properly, this kind of discussion would be thought-provoking. But the lack of material and cohesion made it jarring.
Who benefits from reading David and Goliath?
So even with these flaws, is the book worth reading? Yes. However, there are some factors to consider.
David and Goliath does a lot to talk about the world and the way it works. But if you are the type to discuss things beyond the surface level, the book falls short. Gladwell’s style becomes too evident in his essays on change and success.
Some of the discussions in the book fall victim to a kind of purist and moralist point of view. For instance, there are sections about spending and living life. There are also stories about criminals, yet they fail to tackle the reasons behind making these hard choices.
The discussion is too simplistic for such heavy topics. It becomes difficult to follow and the approach wastes the potential of the scenarios. Still, those who are big fans of philosophical and sociological discussions will find the book compelling.
For instance, the discussions on cost-benefit and personal fulfillment have a lot of merits. Even in the mundane way Gladwell tackles it, most people will identify with the struggles of economic decisions.
People who reject social norms and believe in defying odds will like the book. The prose reads a lot like motivation and positivity, alongside some reminders about life.
The “necessary” evils of life could be seen as obstacles that you can power through. Also, people who feel like they have yet to understand themselves will find enjoyment in the book. After all, there are some sections about reflecting on life.
Reminders against suppressing emotions are also present, making for a good read too. Considering how life can be difficult for many, these reaffirmations are welcome.
But there are also some cons. People who think that wars are bad metaphors will find this boom questionable. After all, there must be other parallels you can draw.
Gladwell also fails to unite the different ideas he has. Instead, the book seems like an anthology of sorts. People looking for a cohesive discussion will be left hanging.
The different stories feel like excerpts at times, and there are some bits that feel out of place. The tonal differences between sections are also glaring.
Also, readers looking for fleshed-out concepts may be better off reading essay collections. Some sections feel like they could stand alone as a piece on The New Yorker. These can be off-putting for some, especially those looking for a linear experience.
But still, there is a lot of potential in this book. Readers of any demographic will find that the deeper discussions have the potential to stimulate some self-reflection.
That is perhaps the main point of the book anyway-make people think about life in an inspiring but realistic manner.
Overall, the book is a good reminder of life’s necessary hardships. Gladwell does a great job dissecting some of the adversities in other places and industries. In a world where progress can only happen if you have access, it is a good wake up call.
Should you read David and Goliath?
This David and Goliath summary can leave you with one thing: this book is proof that people have the strength to move forward. It is true that life can beat you up sometimes. But you can also pick yourself back up.
If you are the type who can find inspiration from conquering hardships, then this book is a must-read. Gladwell’s words are still very beautiful even when monotonous. This is one book that reminds us we can take down our own giants.