Archive for the ‘overcoming odds’ Tag

Championing the Underdogs   Leave a comment


The story of David and Goliath is so familiar making it the perfect set up for Malcolm Gladwell’s examination of beating the odds. In David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Gladwell blends storytelling with psychology and hard cold facts.

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t read Gladwell’s book; I listened to the audio version. I’ve read most of his other works, and enjoy his essays in The New Yorker. Although Gladwell is not the reader on the CD version, his is a unique voice. He shares insights about what makes us tick and manages to find common ground making it easy to relate to his thesis: even in daunting situations it’s possible to achieve success.

This concept may come as no surprise, but many of Gladwell’s examples might since some are contrary to preconceived ideas. His stories focus on personal experiences of others relating to higher education, dyslexia, loss of a child, and even sports. Parenting and financial success are among several subpoints.

What makes this work unique isn’t that Gladwell acknowledges the triumphs of the often-minimalized, but he shows that their accomplishments do not always emerge from the usual places. He acknowledges that making the most of situations certainly contributes, but it’s necessary to consider more than the obvious. For example, he discusses class size and its impact on academic prowess. We might think small class size is better, but, like other points in the book, Gladwell shows why this is faulty.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Four Bookmarks
Recorded by Jared O’Donnell
Little Brown Hatchette Audio, 2013
Unabridged, 7 hours