Thursday, April 29, 2010

What The Dog Saw

What I received as a Christmas gift, I have finally finished reading. That it took me more than three months to get around to reading Malcolm Gladwell's What The Dog Saw is no indictment on the book's quality; there were other things to read before I could get around to this one. Gladwell is a special author, though he doesn't always write special books. The Tipping Point was an incredible book, but I found Blink to be below average and lacking direction. Outliers was good, full of interesting stories and remarkable facts, but not great. For those unfamiliar with Malcolm Gladwell or who have yet to dive into his writing, What The Dog Saw offers the perfect primer. The book is a collection of the best (or at least the author's favorite) articles he has produced in his years as a staff writer for The New Yorker. I find Gladwell to be significantly more compelling in these articles than in the long-form books he has written. His writing packs a punch from beginning to end. My favorite articles from this collection were these:
  • "Open Secrets: Enron, Intelligence, and the Perils of Too Much Information"
  • "Million-Dollar Murray: Why Problems like Homelessness May Be Easier To Solve Than to Manage"
  • "Blowup: Who Can Be Blamed for a Disaster like the Challenger Explosion? No One, and We'd Better Get Used to It"
  • "Late Bloomers: Why Do We Equate Genius with Precocity?"
  • "Most Likely to Succeed: How Do We Hire When We Can't Tell Who's Right for the Job?"

Treat this book like a Gladwell buffet: pick and chose what you want; bounce around the book without any guilt for what you are missing. It is all good.

- Joel

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