David and Goliath

David and Goliath

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The book was unfavorably reviewed twice in The New York TimesJanet Maslin quipped, "As usual, Mr. Gladwell's science is convenient", and she concludes that "the book's middle section is its messiest", where the author attempts to link the experiences of famous dyslexics such as Brian Grazer and David Boies. Joe Nocera called the book "deeply repetitive and a bewildering sprawl," suggesting that "maybe what 'David and Goliath' really illustrates is that it’s time for Malcolm Glad well to find a new shtick."

Writing in Esquire, Tom Junod echoed Nocera's conclusion; his review bore the title "Malcolm Gladwell Runs out of Tricks". Junod coined a term called "The Gladwell Feint", whereby the author questions the obvious, and asserting that the reader's preconceptions are wrong, before reassuring the reader that he has subconsciously known this all along. The Feint is an algorithm that produces reliably feel-good stories. "Gladwell might be suspect as a philosopher, but his credentials as the Horatio Alger of late-period capitalism are unsurpassed." The New Republic reinforced this critique, calling the book less insightful than Chinese fortune cookie and topping the review with the headline "Malcolm Gladwell Is America's Best-Paid Fairy-Tale Writer”. The lamented, "This is an entertaining book. But it teaches little of general import, for the morals of the stories it tells lack solid foundations in evidence and logic."

"To read David and Goliath is to suffer the discomfort of watching a formidably intelligent author flailing—by citing all manner of social-scientific studies and battering us with charts and tables and graphs—to prove something that no one would disagree with in the first place", wrote Craig Seligman for Bloomberg News. "The further I read into David and Goliath, the more irritated I got. I wasn’t persuaded there was much of a subject there, but what really bugged me was the tone." Seligman concluded, "[I]n the past I’ve always felt flattered by Gladwell’s writing. I like having things explained to me. But I don’t like being talked down to by someone who’s telling me things I already know."

However, Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times wrote, "David and Goliath is Gladwell’s most enjoyable book so far. It is a feel-good extravaganza, nourishing both heart and mind… Gladwell is a master at marching us off in one direction, only to end up taking us somewhere else instead—somewhere better."

Book Information
Pages 352
Jacket PB

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