David & Goliath

Updated: Jan 24

Malcolm Gladwell

The most thought-provoking book written by Malcolm Gladwell, David & Goliath looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success.

What’s it about?

We all think we know what happened when David took on Goliath: the little guy won. Malcolm Gladwell disagrees though, and opens his book with the retelling of that story along with his theory as to why the giant was defeated with such ease.

We have always mistakenly assumed that it's a story about the weak beating the powerful with the help of great commitment and sheer blind faith. But as Gladwell points out, it was Goliath who was the vulnerable one. He was a giant, which made him slow, clumsy and probably half-blind (double vision is a common side-effect of an excess of human growth hormone). The only way he could have beaten David was by literally getting his hands on him – but David had no need to go anywhere near him. David had a sling.

This story gives Gladwell a theme and readers a glimpse of what’s to come ahead. The premise for David and Goliath is that everywhere we look in life, perceived advantages are often actually disadvantages. Conversely, perceived disadvantages can also prove to be the very building blocks of what make someone a winner.

Gladwell highlights questions that might have an obvious answer, such as whether joining elite colleges like Harvard is a good idea or whether having smaller classrooms would enhance the learning experience for kids. While reading those questions, your mind would have instinctively uttered “Duh”. But the solution isn’t as obvious as we thought it to be. Just like Gladwell deduced all the issues with Goliath, he does the same with these problems and shows us why a positive answer is not the right solution.

Drawing upon more examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology, and an array of unforgettable characters around the world, Gladwell highlights how sometimes what we see is not actually what the truth is. How it’s actually effective to be unconventional when needed or when the cards are stacked against us. How some difficulties are actually desirable and make us stronger and better people.

One of Gladwell’s best works, David & Goliath will teach you to question everything you believe and provide you with a new sense of perspective when dealing with problems in life and business.

What I liked about the book?

I first came across this book when the racial tensions arose in the US a couple months ago. Trevor Noah posted a video where he mentioned David & Goliath and the principle of legitimacy of society. The book was a timely read which gave me a new perspective on the issues that people face.

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors and is very, very good. This is definitely one of his best books along with Blink and Outliers.

He always accompanies his research with some fascinating stories of people around the world, some of them random people like us, as well as influential people like Martin Luther King. This makes the book an enjoyable read.

This book will give you a new way of looking at problems around us and how we can deal with them. Rightly said, more often than not, the giant is not the giant we think of him to be.

“When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters—first and foremost—how they behave.”

What did I not like about the book?

Something that I noticed with Blink as well, Gladwell uses too many stories at times to highlight his argument and ends up becoming repetitive.

Some of his theories and claims fall short of convincing the reader that his claims are right. Since he hides the identity of most of the people whose stories he has used to make his argument, it makes it tougher to verify the evidence.

The book would definitely be a complete one if Gladwell dedicated a chapter or even an epilogue to tell us what we can do with these ideas and how we can change our way of thinking with this new perspective. That’s something that I have had an issue with in every book I have read of his.

My verdict-

More often than not, we never try to shift our perspective when analyzing the issues around us. We stick to our beliefs and let those beliefs shape the way we solve these issues. We never open our eyes and ask ourselves, “Why do I believe that this is the only way to look at this?”.

Gladwell tries to address this exact problem with David & Goliath. He shows us that more often than not, if we change the way we look at our problems, and be more observant towards the details, we can come up with more effective solutions. He provides us with that new way. When you read this book, you will feel like you can topple giants!

Rating - 7/10

You can check out this book for yourself by clicking on the link below!

Thank you for reading my review. Hope you enjoy the book!

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