Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Just finished Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers. As always, his writing is beautifully simple and compelling. And, as with the two other books of his that I've read, this one will shape my thinking for years to come. Gladwell is a master at framing big ideas in ways that really stick with you.

His basic point is that there are no super humans. Chart-breaking success is the result of hard work and the opportunity to work hard. And it's the result of unfair advantages and disadvantages.

This book has a major flaw, though. There aren't really any women in it.

At the end, he shares the story of a 12-year-old girl at a school in the Bronx, and the story of his grandmother. But none of the chart-topping success stories are of women.

I frankly can't believe that he and his editors let this omission slide. From a writer's perspective, it seems an enormous screw up, one that unnecessarily mars an otherwise terrific book.


Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. said...

Moi mini-review of Outliers.

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.You thought you were special, gifted even. Pulled yourself up from your bootstraps to make a name for yourself in this world didja? Well maybe that and a lot of help from others who don't get the credit. Here Gladwell explores the who, what, and where of the credit. Turns out its simple enough. All you need is ambition, drive, luck, and 10,000 hours of practice.

Plus 9 more @:moi:winter reading list

Logtar said...

Cannot wait to read this book!

Doug E. said...

Does he address this head on? It seems to me there might be a pretty compelling point that women too often don't benefit from the sort of perfect storms of circumstances that Gladwell describes in Outliers. What do you think?

joe said...

He doesn't really, in my opinion. The book ends with the story of his grandmother in which he talks about class, race and gender factors on success, but I really think it's too little too late. And it doesn't excuse him from choosing not to focus on any number of truly successful and brilliant women.