Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Book Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

This book is about extraordinary success, and more specifically, about the environment around the individuals that made them successful.  Gladwell argues that though individual hard work and talent is important, the opportunities presented by one's family, culture, and social conditions have not received enough attention as factors to those successes.  Thus the writing of this book.

Outliers is an easy read and full of interesting stories and data.  Sometimes it gets a bit repetitious, but overall the data presented were refreshing and helps to explain Gladwell's arguments.

I do not agree with all of the conclusions in the book, but here are the points that I agree and feel are very important:

1. Parents' impact on a child's life is very profound.  Kids from wealthier families tend to have parents that are actively involved in cultivating their interest, teach them to have a sense of entitlement, and comb them to be comfortable in social settings.  This skills will greatly help a child to succeed in the future.  So parents, don't underestimate your power to make an impact.

2. A culture that doesn't encourage a healthy dose of defiance to authority can cause harm for people in that culture.  If the consequences of any form of rebellion is too great, truths cannot surface and advancements will slow, or, in some cases, disasters will strike.

Overall, I give the book 3.5 out of 5, for its accessibility (easy to read) and its insightfulness.  However, I would like to see a more complete and in depth study on the topics covered in the book.

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