Wednesday, March 05, 2014

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell ~ A review

 The full name of this book is actually David and Goliath - Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.

Publisher's Summary (from the inside book flap):

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about the obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.  Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago.  From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high cost of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms- all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

My Thoughts:  
This book turned out to be something different than what I was thinking it was going to be.  For some reason I thought it was going to be a indepth study of the biblical story of  David and Goliath but that was my error for not reading the description closely enough.  While the author has started off with the story of David and Goliath he uses that as the diving board to explore many other aspects and more current stories of what the world would call underdogs rising above their circumstances and stations in life to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

While the description on the cover of the book states it he begins with the "real" story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy, David, I found that I could not quite agree that it was the "real" story.  I felt it was more supposition on the author's part.  He breaks it down into a pretty much intellectual breakdown of what might have happened and what might have accounted for David's victory over the Philistine giant.  In my mind, while all that "might" have been true, there is no evidence for it, the story of David and Goliath is so much more than what is seen with the eye.  It is a story of great spiritual significance, of a young boy's deep faith in the greatness and faithfulness of God and his audacity to take God at His word.  It is a story of God's plan and fulfillment of that plan, of David fulfilling what God had called him to in order to change history.

That being said I did find the exploration of the underdog very interesting.  By going into other true to life stories the author takes a look at what we as a society define as handicaps, disabilities and disadvantages and how certain groups and individuals have taken that and turned it around into a victory.  Because non-fiction is always more challenging to me it took me a little longer to make it through to the end but I'm glad I was persistent with it.  Some of the statistics in the book did bog me down but the book is not over done with them.  The questions and arguments the author stated did challenge my thinking and made for some good conversations.

The book being mostly a historical and psycological study, I found it didn't touch on the spiritual at all except to quote a scripture at the beginning of each chapter.  It is interesting to note that in writing this book it kicked off a journey for the author into turning back to his family's Christian faith.  He also on the B& B media blog when discussing this book quoted:

“Believing that the power within us – the Spirit of God – can overcome the powers against us means that we are not the underdog,” explains Gladwell. “We are not as weak as we think we are. Neither is the giant as strong as he seems. This is an important lesson for us to learn in our battles with opponents of all kinds.”

And in essence I think that that is the point that Mr. Gladwell has learned and now speaks about in interviews.  I wish a bit more of that point was made more clear within the book itself.  After all is said and done, I found the book interesting, very readable to even a non-fiction reader such as myself, and challenging to examine my own way of thinking.

Thanks to B&B Media Group for providing the book free for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review and all thought are my own.


Deb said...

I had wondered about this book. My daughter loved his other book, Outliers, so I got a copy and it is on my reading list. I may look for this one as well. Sounds interesting. I love your reviews!

Faith said...

wow you have done so much reading lately!!! Doesn't look like a book I would normally choose but it does sound interesting....more along the lines of what my husband enjoys....thanks for the review!!