“…the phrase “David and Goliath” has come to be embedded in our language-as a metaphor for improbable victory. And the problem with that version of events is that almost everything about it is wrong.”
Published: October 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: Allen Lane
David & Goliath, subtitled Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants opens with one of the most famous stories of an underdog triumphing over a giant- David and Goliath (as the title suggests.)
We all know the story, don’t we? No, argues Gladwell. We’ve all got it completely wrong. All these years, over centuries and centuries, we’ve been telling these stories- revelling in the triumph of the unlikely winner.
But, as Gladwell points out; “the powerful and the strong are not always what they seem” and this book, he says, is about getting things right.
Each chapter is comprised of a different story. Not merely a stereotypical tale of an underdog triumphing over a giant; but a genuinely interesting story of ordinary people turning the world upside down. In this way, you can dip into and out of David & Goliath easily- reading just a couple of stories or reading the whole thing.
Gladwell has been criticised by scientists for “cherry picking” studies to find ones that support his arguments or generalising conclusions.
Whilst these points are valid, I don’t think this should deter you from reading Gladwell. He doesn’t pretend to be a scientist- he never says that his words should be taken as 100% truth. Readers are meant to form their own conclusions- and indeed, the actual absence of a conclusion in David & Goliath seems to emphasise this.
4/5 stars. Whilst not normally my cup of tea, David & Goliath is well worth a read. From inspirational stories, to the complete overthrowing of our ancient myth of the boy who beat the giant- it’s a marvelous book. Readers will learn that “the same qualities which appear to give [giants] strength are often the sources of great weakness” and just as David triumphed- so too can we.