Outliers: The Story of Success

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9780316036696: Outliers: The Story of Success
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FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Identifies the qualities of successful people, maintaining that culture, family, and idiosyncratic factors can have a decisive impact on shaping high achievers.

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Review:

Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: Now that he's gotten us talking about the viral life of ideas and the power of gut reactions, Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot." Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, "some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky."

Outliers can be enjoyed for its bits of trivia, like why most pro hockey players were born in January, how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill, why the descendents of Jewish immigrant garment workers became the most powerful lawyers in New York, how a pilots' culture impacts their crash record, how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math. But there's more to it than that. Throughout all of these examples--and in more that delve into the social benefits of lighter skin color, and the reasons for school achievement gaps--Gladwell invites conversations about the complex ways privilege manifests in our culture. He leaves us pondering the gifts of our own history, and how the world could benefit if more of our kids were granted the opportunities to fulfill their remarkable potential. --Mari Malcolm

About the Author:

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of three other books, "The Tipping Point," "Blink," and "What the Dog Saw," all of which are "New York Times" bestsellers. He has been a staff writer for "The New Yorker" since 1996, prior to which he was a reporter with the "Washington Post," where he covered business and science and also served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. Gladwell was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City.

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