Book review: Outliers

August 13, 2009

Title: Outliers: The story of success
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Pages: 285

Outliers is a book that proves that extraordinary success does not come purely from hard work and talent, it is also a combination of history, legacy, community and luck. It, just like Freakonomics, aims to dispell common myths by answering intriguing questions like “What do rice paddies have to do with math reuslts?”.

A number of things made me like this book less than Freakonomics:

  • It is somewhat restricted in its scope, Gladwell does not cover as many areas as Freakonomics did. Rather, he restricts himself to long-winded background stories that take up most of the book.
  • I didn’t learn any new methods of looking at information. Unlike Ben at A Modest Construct, this book did not make me feel like investigating further.
    After reading Freakonomics I felt like doing some research on census data. I never got around to even getting hold of the data, but still, I was inspired to do it.
  • I found the whole theme of the book to be rather obvious to warrant so much elucidation. Ofcourse extraordinary success is the result of extraordinary circumstances, I don’t need hundreds of pages to tell me that.

Although, I prefer Freakonomics it must be said that Gladwell presents his information clearly and convincingly. It was interesting and light reading.

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