Lit Gloss

Malcolm Gladwell

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 28, 2009

Share this Story:

Are you an outlier? It'd be nice to think so if you understand the title of Malcolm Gladwell's latest book as a term for people who are successful beyond the norm--freaks of nature and economy like Bill Gates. But while Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink, does examine Gates in Outliers: The Story of Success, he's not advocating a simple rule for achievement, monetary or otherwise. (Sorry, Steven Covey fans.) Instead he's trying to puzzle out how someone like Bill Gates happens, and whether he is, in fact, singular. As usual, Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker, uses some quirky examples to examine this notion of operating outside the norm. Why, for instance, did Korean Air have so many plane crashes in the late '90s? Among airlines, it was certainly an outlier, with tragic results. Gladwell suggests that the rigid social hierarchy inherent in South Korean culture meant that airline personnel weren't frank with each other--and the concomitant lack of communication led to disaster. But not everyone's sold on his argument. In December, pilot Patrick Smith wrote an essay from an expert-aviation perspective for Salon.com quibbling with Gladwell's points. Gladwell is certainly on safer ground in the book when he's talking about the phenomenon of genius: Mozart makes for more comfortable conclusions than Korean pilots. When Gladwell comes to the Free Library this week, he'll likely be challenged on some of the assertions he makes in the book, particularly those related to Jews and Asians; ethnic arguments always raise hackles. Gladwell is a funny, intelligent speaker, somewhere between Spalding Grey and a much brainier Ira Glass. He doesn't just put his head down and read from his book at a podium. Thank God. Mon., Feb. 2, 7:30pm. $7-$14. Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St. 215.686.5322. www.freelibrary.org

Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend

COMMENTS

ADD COMMENT

Rate:
(HTML and URLs prohibited)

MORE

Article:
Joe Queenan's "Closing Time"

Article:
Roger Clemens' Downfall

Article:
Spring Books Roundup

Article:
Lit Gloss

Article:
Lit Gloss

Article:
Lit Gloss

Article:
Lit Gloss

Article:
Lit Gloss