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Outliers

The Story of Success
Written by: Malcolm Gladwell
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (426 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers" - the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

©2008 Malcom Gladwell (P)2008 Hachette Audio

What members say

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Very good book!

I really enjoyed this book! The content is very interesting and I learned a lot of new things!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So interesting.

Malcolm Gladwell is my goto when I want to sit back and listen to interesting topics.

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Highly recommend!

Wonderful book! Malcolm keeps you very engaged and informed the whole time. Read by the author, lots of good information. Quick listen.

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fav

loved it - i was hooked from the beginning. will read more Malcolm Gladwell. thanks

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Entertaining

Loved the book!
Thanks for writing this wonderful piece. It makes one understand the concepts of chance and skill a little better.

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Very Interesting... except!

Very interesting take on success, except it devalues exceptional people by only looking at too few examples from history then painting very broad strokes.

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Not extremely satisfied

I don’t think the book fully explains why those outliers are successful.

There are a lot of people presented with the same opportunities, like being born in time when new technology started to gain momentum, having access to computers (it is mentioned that Jo or Gates made use of computers available in an university, but wasn’t that also true for all the students studied in that university?). And not all of them became outliers.

On the narrative side, I do not appreciate how the narrator (also author) mispronounce the Chinese number character. It has nothing to do with national pride, just that it shows the narrator didn’t do his homework and allowed his audiobook to be of less quality than it could has be.

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good read

the theory is great. book reminds me a lot of freakonomics. if you like that book, you will love this.

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Puts in perspective the true reasons of success

Biggest lesson: those who are outliers need both to work hard, and the ability to work hard

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  • PK
  • 2019-02-11

parental reading

this book must become a must read for all parents, they should hand it to every parent at the birth of their child

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • KHarrang
  • 2008-11-21

Captivating (if not an outlier)

Regardless of what you ultimately think of the author's analysis, Gladwell is a masterful storyteller, weaving together interesting anecdotes from such diverse sources as plane crash research to hillbilly feuds to standardized math tests. That Gladwell narrates the audio book himself adds greatly to the listening experience. Critics will complain that his thesis is obvious (that opportunity, cultural inheritence and hard work play key roles in success), or that his examples are selective and ignore in turn outliers that don't illustrate his points -- or, somewhat inconsistently, both. But Gladwell's books are successful because he examines phenomena and topics of importance in an accessible and entertaining way. No one should mistake Malcolm Gladwell for a big thinker like, say, Stephen J. Gould, but Gladwell would be the first one to tell you that he's no outlier. Don't accept everything the author says as truth revealed, but do listen to this book -- it's one of the best non-fiction offerings available through Audible.

135 of 152 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Scott T. Hards
  • Tatebayashi, Gunma Japan
  • 2008-12-13

Engaging, but overrated

Outliers has many interesting statistical anecdotes sprinkled throughout, to be sure. My interest was held. But at its core, the book's central theme is simply "successful people are aided in their success by their families, culture, education and other chance factors. They could not have done it alone." This is not exactly a particularly profound revelation. Gladwell repeatedly asserts that most people think Bill Gates-type successes are simply due to that person's raw talent and little else. But is that really the case? Does anybody really think Bill Gates could have achieved what he did had he been born in Botswana, for example? What's more, while crediting these outside factors with making these "outliers" possible, he fails to note that in almost every case, hundreds if not thousands or even more other people had virtually identical birth situations, yet failed to achieve greatness. Gladwell's goal seems to be an attempt to take the shine off of society's great success stories by, in effect, claiming they just got lucky. But I think the formula for producing an outlier is more complex than that. Too often in this book, Gladwell seems to be profoundly stating the obvious.
Gladwell's narration of his own work is generally skillful and an easy listen.


216 of 244 people found this review helpful

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  • Sher from Provo
  • Utah
  • 2012-04-12

Very Interesting!

Gladwell sets out to explain how the top people in any field were able to get there. The explanations can be very surprising. I was very engaged throughout the whole book. He talked a lot about education, and having been a public school teacher for the last 27 years, I found it absorbing, hopeful, and found myself wishing that I had known some of these things 27 years ago.

Gladwell narrates his own book, which sometimes turns out well, and sometimes not so much. Although obviously not a professional, he has a pleasing way of reading. I wouldn't be choosing a book on account of him reading it however. Still, it was very "listenable" and I enjoyed it very much.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Stephen
  • 2009-03-18

Are you and outlier? How did you become one?

The outliers in this book are people who have either succeeded or failed beyond expectation. Besides intelligence, what other factors make people extremely successful? Some of the questions that are posed and answered are:

Why are most professional hockey players born Jan-
Mar?
Why were 9 of the top wealthiest men of ALL time (cleopatra to present) born in the 1830's?

Why are many of the key people in computer technology born between 1953 and 1955? W

hy did some immigrant groups do better than others?

Why do asians do better in math?

These are interesting questions and interesting observations are provided. It is not clear if even the author has an overall opinion of if you can control your own destiny. He swings from chapters where when you were born is the largest factor, to other cases where simply working hard and smarts gets you ahead. Perhaps the answer is you need both to become a Bill Gates or a Rockefeller. However, he makes an excellent case of how external factors often set you up for success.

The other concept that is presented is the idea of working hard enough and long enough at something to become expert at something. Those that were wildly successful were experts at the right time in history.

The audio book is not referenced so if you want to read the studies cited for yourself, you will need to get the book.

If you have read Drunkard's Walk and Supercrunchers, this is an interesting and important addition to the factors that govern success.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Leah C. Day
  • 2009-09-14

Interesting

This was a pretty interesting book. I don't agree with all of the reasoning, but it's an interesting theory.

The one downside to this book is that if you're looking for motivation, it might work the opposite effect.

This book is about how luck and certain circumstances make you more likely to be successful such as your birthdate, ethnicity, and religion.

If you easily see your circumstances as beyond your control, you may read this book and feel disheartened that you're not lucky or have the right circumstances to be successful.

I believe luck is part of it, but drive and ambition are also important too. You DO have the power to alter your circumstances, even if you've not been given special advantages.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • S Prabhu
  • Boston, USA
  • 2008-12-27

Excellent book; well adapted for the audio format

Unusual take on a topic that is taken for granted. The author's voice enhances the message-highly recommended audiobook-perhaps my best book of the year!

35 of 42 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • bristol, United Kingdom
  • 2010-08-23

This book should be called 'selective evidence'

Whilst a lot of the ideas in this book are not Gladwell's alone, he takes responsibility for presenting them as if they were fact. Some parts are fascinating - such as the investigation of pilot errors which lead to crashes - but much of it falls woefully short of sound argument. The main points in the book are either obvious or highly questionable: intelligence alone is no trigger for success; luck is big factor in all great achievements; 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve excellence at anything.

The examples he provides completely ignore the possibility that timing is not just luck, but actually a inherent quality of the thought process that goes into the idea of the business in the first place. Did Bill Gates really become so successful purely because he was: a) in the right place at the right time, and b) put in 10,000 hours of programming in an age when computers were hard to come by? By drawing these conclusions he overlooks the unprovable possibility that Gates may have become successful in another area had he not been born at the right time to start Microsoft.

Were the Beatles successful because of their 10,000 hours of practice in German nightclubs and the like before their 'breakthrough' US number one? Even if you ignore Gladwell's convenient use of their US breakthrough to mark his 10,000 hour cut-off (coming 18 months after their UK success), were they really successful because of the amount of practice they put in? Was it merely musical competence that raised them above their peers? What about inspiration, creative ideas, charisma, chemistry or pure unteachable songwriting genius? And what about the likes of Nick Drake, or Kurt Cobain, or Buddy Holly? They could not have possibly put in the 10,000 hours 'required' practice as prescribed by Gladwell. There must be hundreds or thousands more in the world of music, film, literature, or even business who do not conform to the 10,000 hour rule. Yet they are conveniently overlooked.

42 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Robert W
  • JOHNSON CITY, TN, USA
  • 2009-05-09

Intriguing but the research is questionable

This book is quite intriguing, but often as I listened I began to wonder about his research methodology. His facts, while compelling seem to be only part of the picture and I began to wonder as to how much picking and choosing of facts was going on to support his points. His determination to support his rather deterministic view is clear throughout the piece.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Felix
  • 2012-04-11

Too many examples, not enough ideas...

Would you try another book from Malcolm Gladwell and/or Malcolm Gladwell?

I am rating this book at 3 stars because there are too many examples and statistics terms used by the author; however, the main ideas are simple and were very well presented on a book summary I read online at no cost. Though I enjoyed listening to the book, I feel reading the book summary would have been enough.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The relation between the facts as presented by the author are certainly interesting parts of the book. The least interesting is where the author gets caught up on statistical data and tries to reinforce a point with too many examples.

What does Malcolm Gladwell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Not sure.

Do you think Outliers needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I wouldnt buy a follow up book.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Pawleys Island, SC, USA
  • 2009-03-08

Excellent!

Gladwell is a fine writer and this book, in the same style as Blink, explores the real factors that contribute to the success of those we think are so above and beyond us (Bill Gates, the Beatles, etc.). Gladwell makes it clear that their talent, drive, energy, and intelligence WERE key to their success but that these, alone, would not have done it for them. They needed unusual opportunities. In fact, the opportunities given them that were not given others were as important to their achievements as their personal qualities. This book helps reduce the "superstars" down to human level. If you had been given the opportunities these were, you might have achieved what they did or more!

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-02-27

Those who appear to be extraordinary are ordinary people

In this book, Malcolm does a study of many of the highly successful people we know to prove that it is not mostly what they were born with, that is having a higher IQ or having a special talent who got them where they got. They had to put a huge amount of work, they took advantage of their environment, the period where they were born, gifts from their past generations and more. The example of Bill Gates show it clearly that he was advantaged not only because he was born in a blessed period to get mature during the IT boom, but also, having access to an outfitted computer in 1968 when he was 13, during that same period, computers were so expensive that even professors in computer science barely had access to them, and programming was so complex, by the time he showed up at the Silicon Valley, he had more than 10 000 hours of programming in his fingers. Nearly all of us, if given same opportunities with the outliers, we will surely write the same stories, if not better.
The Asians do not have higher IQ than the rest of us, the just have more school time and work harder than the others, this is why the will outperform the rest of the world in maths and other scientific complex subjects. The example of the KIPP schools brought to the USA is a demonstration that working harder and for longer period can yield impressive results.

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2018-03-20

clear and easy to listen

clear and easy to listen to while you are walking. enjoy his narration of success. insightful but not pretentious usual American bestseller. I think gladwell has improved a lot from Blink