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10% of people buy Outliers: The Story of Success and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking ~ Paperback ~ Malcolm Gladwell.
Gladwell examines how the careers of Bill Gates and the performance of world-class football players are alike; what top fighter pilots and The Beatles have in common; why so many top lawyers are Jewish; why Asians are good at maths; and why it is correct to say that the mathematician who solved Fermat's Theorem is not a genius. Just as he did in "Blink", Gladwell overturns many of our conventional notions and creates an entirely new model for seeing the world. Brilliant and entertaining, this is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.
"There is a logic behind why some people become successful, and it has more to do with legacy and opportunity than high IQ. In his latest book, New Yorker contributor Gladwell (Blink, 2005, etc.) casts his inquisitive eye on those who have risen meteorically to the top of their fields, analyzing developmental patterns and searching for a common thread. The author asserts that there is no such thing as a self-made man, that "the true origins of high achievement" lie instead in the circumstances and influences of one's upbringing, combined with excellent timing. The Beatles had Hamburg in 1960-62; Bill Gates had access to an ASR-33 Teletype in 1968. Both put in thousands of hours-Gladwell posits that 10,000 is the magic number-on their craft at a young age, resulting in an above-average head start. The author makes sure to note that to begin with, these individuals possessed once-in-a-generation talent in their fields. He simply makes the point that both encountered the kind of "right place at the right time" opportunity that allowed them to capitalize on their talent, a delineation that often separates moderate from extraordinary success. This is also why Asians excel at mathematics-their culture demands it. If other countries schooled their children as rigorously, the author argues, scores would even out. Gladwell also looks at "demographic luck," the effect of one's birth date. He demonstrates how being born in the decades of the 1830s or 1930s proved an enormous advantage for any future entrepreneur, as both saw economic booms and demographic troughs, meaning that class sizes were small, teachers were overqualified, universities were looking to enroll and companies were looking foremployees. In short, possibility comes "from the particular opportunities that our particular place in history presents us with." This theme appears throughout the varied anecdotes, but is it groundbreaking information? At times it seems an exercise in repackaged carpe diem, especially from a mind as attuned as Gladwell's. Nonetheless, the author's lively storytelling and infectious enthusiasm make it an engaging, perhaps even inspiring, read. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser. " Kirkus Reviews
Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. In 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of two books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference (2000) and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), both of which were number one New York Times bestsellers.
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