Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Gladwell’

Malcolm Gladwell is a media empire.  If you don’t believe me, google the name and discover he takes up more space than Connecticut.  And has anyone noticed, the man does not have a decent photograph of himself?  Please, don’t break into a sweat if you are a fan as I am not disparaging him.  He ferrets out interesting topics, reads and investigates, and finally writes an essay worth your time to read.

He writes and writes, and fortunately for us he knows how to cull his own work so when a new collection like What The Dog Saw and other adventures comes out you know every essay is good.  My recommendation extends to Clarion Friends and to President Obama as well.  The President could learn a thing or two from this book, particularly Part Two: Theories, Predictions, And Diagnoses.

After reading his Outliers: The Story Of Success I recall writing something about it for Clarion Friends; however, if I did I must not have given him credit because I can’t find it.  To make amends I suggest you put both books on your Christmas wish list.  If Santa does not come through, take your indulgence in hand and buy them yourself.

Does anyone know what they pay him at the New Yorker?  He surely gets more money and benefits than a Congressional Representative.  Charles Marlin

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Why should a biographer listen to my advice?  Because I am your prime demographic.  I ran through my reading list for ’08 and counted 34 biographies and autobiographies, so ignore me at your peril.

If you are a biographer I know immediately if you’re sloppy or a lazy researcher.  I know when the editor has not cleaned up the book.  I know when the book is too long.  I know when you still do not have a map of the person or time or place.  So here is my advice, read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story Of Success.

Yes, I know that pat theories explaining life are best picked up when wearing protective gloves, but the book can set you thinking about your subject being at the right age to take advantage of opportunities beyond his control.  Being born in a generation that harvests what has never grown before recognizes  macro opportunities that only become clear in long perspective which should be your ace.  Being born to a family and cultural heritage that focuses on advancement and success, and a family that  makes extraordinary resources available is a powerful engine of motivation.  Building the magical ten thousand hours of training and education is not something an individual can ever do on his own.  So much for the self-made man.

Gladwell defines outliers as those individuals who combine talent and brains with fortunate opportunities to become achievers beyond normal or outstanding expectations.  He does not deny the importance of the individual; however, he insists the individual is not the full explanation, and wants top billing given to factors of time, place, family, location, culture, economic opportunity, and national events.

I would have enjoyed a chapter on material he found could not be used to support his case.  Authors who write ex cathedra often suffer from the infaillibility virus, and always assume no reader will notice.  Too bad.  I would have readily read another chapter speculating on why not all life stories fit his theory.  A little intellectual honesty and openness can cover a multitude of sins.  Charles Marlin

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