'David and Goliath'

Friday, October 4, 2013

'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants'

Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown, 305 pp. $29.

Everyone loves an underdog story. Unless we have a particular alliance to a sports team, we instinctively cheer for the one who isn't "supposed" to win. We like the "rags to riches" story. We like people rising above their situation to achieve their dream.

This ideology, however, may not be as miraculous as we believe it to be. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" takes a deeper look at the underdog story, and works toward a better understanding of what makes those who shouldn't win turn the tables of the game at the last second.

"'David and Goliath' is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants," he writes. "By 'giants,' I mean powerful opponents of all kinds."

Using the stories of people who figured out how to change the balance of the situation, Gladwell inspects the psychology behind advantages and disadvantages, and offers a deeper insight to how the underdog comes out on top.

"What the Israelites saw, from high on the ridge, was an intimidating giant," he said of Goliath, from the biblical account of David and Goliath. "In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his advantage was also the source of his greatest weakness. There is an important lesson in that for battle with all kinds of giants. The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem."

Gladwell's previous books, "Blink," "Outliers," "The Tipping Point," and "What the Dog Saw," are massive bestsellers. Similar to "David and Goliath," they provide a resource to psychology that is as interesting as it is accessible to the common reader.

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