Malcolm Gladwell explores the art of battling giants explaining the strengths of being an underdog and the weaknesses of not considering the limits of authority. To present a cohesive argument, he uses examples to argue both sides of each coin, using each part of the book to conduct in depth discussions of the psychology of people and communities facing adversity and social turmoil.
From the actual story of David and Goliath to the IRA and the Troubles, the book describes how people who do not play by the rules and follow the road less traveled find success in situations that are dire and seem unconquerable. A dyslexic child may face the same difficulties adjusting to a society that doesn’t understand their disability than a child who is scolded for being bored in class due to the teacher’s ineffective curriculum. The British who survived the German raids during WWIII became stronger and weren’t demoralized by the effort as much as the enemy expected. Only by understanding human nature and the true psychological impacts of adversity can we begin to comprehend how the psyche processes challenge, raising our cognitive abilities to help us develop the necessary resilience to survive.
Some people have observed that Gladwell’s work can be repetitive and not memorable but I believe his storytelling is magnetic and it stays with you in a subconscious level. Sociology discussions are never one sided and can’t be conclusively argued one way or the other; there is a lot of gray. However, he makes excellent use of examples and witnesses to solidify his conclusions and observations. He doesn’t speak of abstracts and has data to prove that there is science and validity behind his statements. Although some argue statistics can be bent to prove biased perspectives, the author does his best to give you an opportunity to dissent and to look for other data if his notes don’t convince you.
In my opinion, this book is a good companion to his previous work Outliers. Why? Because his work touches briefly on some numbers that make some of his examples outliers as well, proving that in some cases what doesn’t kill you actually makes you stronger and a much likelier person to make a difference in this world; daring to face your fears and slay one giant at a time.