Monday, February 3, 2014

book review: "david and goliath" by malcolm gladwell

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won. 

Or should he have? 

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about 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 costs 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.

I was disappointed with this book. I had thought it would take the story of David and Goliath and really explore it. But it didn't. The introduction of the book talks about the story - I was thinking more of the book would focus on it. The rest of the book looks at different people who could be considered "David's" due to different challenges they've faced. There's David Boies, a successful lawyer who has dyslexia. Vivek Ranadive, a man who had never played basketball until he decided to coach his daughter's team. Caroline Sacks, a very bright student who ended up abandoning her dream of science after enrolling at Brown and doubting her ability to succeed. I feel like the overall theme lies in one of the very last sentences, when the story of David and Goliath is referred to once more: "You see the giant and the shepherd in the Valley of Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine." And I agree with that statement. We shouldn't discount the underdog because you never know how capable someone is. But I felt like the route taken through the story to get to this point was lost on me. Gladwell makes some good points throughout the book and, as an educator, especially got me to thinking when talking about how a small class size isn't always a good thing. There are a few things I'll take away from the book but I wasn't overly impressed. 

I received a copy of this book from The B & B Media Group for my honest review.

  post signature 


No comments:

Post a Comment