Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
Release Date: October 20, 2009
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Length: 432 pages

What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard-but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century?

Here is the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling inventions of the pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer" who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and "hindsight bias" and why it was that everyone in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate.
Malcolm Gladwell may be my favorite nonfiction author, though I admit I haven't read many of them. He takes a topic that I've never considered before, then weaves it into an incredible story which makes me feel like maybe it isn't useless trivia after all. Even when it actually is.

This book is a collection of Malcolm Gladwell's best articles with the New York Times Magazine reaching back into the 1990's It's organized into three categories, but the topics definitely jumped around with every new story, making sure I never got too tired of one kind of story.

Some of the articles were less interesting than others, of course. I found myself forcing through a few of the ones in the middle--but it was alright, because I could skip them without losing track of the flow of the book. Like reading a book of short stories, any articles that didn't grab me could be passed by.

The best part about this book is that it makes you really think about all kinds of information you'd never thought of before. For example, Gladwell's views on plagiarism were fascinating, and I'd never heard the argument presented in the way he did. It made me reevaluate some of my ideas, and I loved that about it.

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting book!

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