If I told you that –
– Extremely successful people are usually very gifted.
– Chance opportunities have a lot to do with success in life.
– Extremely high intelligence is not a reliable predictor of success.
– Upper middle class children have a greater sense of entitlement than poor ones.
– Children who spend more hours in tougher schools are more successful.
- Children who start school at six rather than barely five are often better students and athletes.
your response would probably be, “DUH! I don’t need to read a book that makes THOSE points.”
But Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell’s book on what goes into success, is not simpleminded and it is a lot of fun to read. Opportunities that lead to success are not always obvious:
– The Italian peasants who settled Roseto, Pennsylvania, were not intending to create an earthly paradise.
– The Beatles probably didn’t think that having to play eight hour gigs in Hamburg was going to result in fame and fortune.
– Bill Gates didn’t know that the accidental purchase of a time-sharing computer in 1968 was going to jump-tart his amazing career.
– Jews from Nineteenth Century Eurrope had little reason to believe that they were very prepared to succeed in 1890s New York.
– Asians engaged in rice farming didn’t know that they were preparing their descendents for the famous Asian academic success.
– Parents who had children between 1912 and 1917 didn’t know that their children would be much more successful than those born between 1903 and 1911. Success would have a lot to do with WHEN you hit the Depression and World War II.
Outliers, like Malcolm Gladwell’s previous books, The Tipping Point and Blink, is fun and it gives the reader a lot to think about. It is not a serious piece of scientific research. One reviewer said bluntly, “He’s cherrypicking.” This book is for readers who regard interesting ideas as brightly colored toys and entertaining stories as intellectual ice cream. It is not for those who want only carefully documented and clearly established evidence.
Libraries should have Gladwell’s books because he has a talent for reaching the popular culture and affecting the way it thinks. Whether he will still be read fifty years from now is another question.