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Range

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Written by: David Epstein
Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (167 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The number-one New York Times best seller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

“The most important business - and parenting - book of the year.” (Forbes)

“Urgent and important...an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” (Daniel H. Pink)

“So much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education.” (Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet)

“As David Epstein shows us, cultivating range prepares us for the wickedly unanticipated…a well-supported and smoothly written case on behalf of breadth and late starts.” (Wall Street Journal)

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule. 

David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters, and scientists. He discovered that in most fields - especially those that are complex and unpredictable - generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

©2019 David Epstein (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“For reasons I cannot explain, David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range.” (Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point)

“For too long, we’ve believed in a single path to excellence. Start early, specialize soon, narrow your focus, aim for efficiency. But in this groundbreaking book, David Epstein shows that in most domains, the way to excel is something altogether different. Sample widely, gain a breadth of experiences, take detours, and experiment relentlessly. Epstein is a deft writer, equally nimble at telling a great story and unpacking complicated science. And Range is an urgent and important book, an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” (Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind)

“In a world that’s increasingly obsessed with specialization, star science writer David Epstein is here to convince you that the future may belong to generalists. It’s a captivating read that will leave you questioning the next steps in your career - and the way you raise your children.” (Adam Grant, author of Give and Take and Originals)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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yesss

This was just the book I needed....it was recommended to me by my business coach and I'm glad I tuned in. I came away feeling like every lesson amd moment in my life had given me something and that range can be so positive

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fresh take on innovation & the generalist mindset

This book is reassurance for all the wanderers, day dreamers and tinkerers that you don't have retire your insatiable curiosity for a path to success. Nearing thirty, I still havent settled in just one career path, never mind a narrow trajectory. My lack of specialization has been a source of deep personal anxiety and exasperation from peers and mentors. This book offers an alternative that celebrates the generalist's path to success and happiness. I'll continue to follow my interests wherever they lead, but having read this book, I'll bring along a few new tools, and a lot less guilt.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting

I found the book to be strong at times and not so much as well. I think those stories that were relative to me or my previous knowledge made for better engagement on my part. Granted I learned plenty about those I wasn't so familiar with.

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Might change your life! ... but too many stories

One of my favourite books I would say for overall content. I feel like I learned a lot reading this. It also makes you rethink how you plan to get better in your own life, in your career, how you hire, etc. and also maybe not worry so much about being behind or not being focused enough.

My main annoyance with the book was that some of the stories seemed a bit unnecessary and went on too long. Plus, the book starts off by saying how the theories of hyper specialization focus on specific success stories to prove their point. Then he uses specific success stories to prove his point throughout the whole book....

Overall would still 100% recommend.

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Great examples, mind blowing concepts!

It was such an amazing experience and connects so well to a lot of trends occurring right now! In a world where we are pushed to enter one world or another, it’s so interesting to hear that we can make such a large impact by just crossing disciplines with ideas!

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I knew my Philosophy degree was good for something

Excellent series of anecdotes showing the dynamic power of lateral thinking. Encourage the new to you, go where your interests lead. This is the fundamental differentiator that has provided all of the breakthroughs in human advancement

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Overall good, but could have been shorter

Would have hated reading this book especially when he got into the NASA stuff. He should keep those stories to his speaking engagements.

He proves his point very early on. It feels like the publishers are forcing the extra stories.

Good book if you run a lot. Helps get through the monotony of the last third.

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The best book I have read/listened to

The material in this book can literally be life changing for yourself and/or your children. It exposes one of the biggest lies in society - you can start late and specialization needs to be balanced with general knowledge.

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Helps solidify your path!

My desire to win so deeply in this lifetime made me question with all these skill sets I obtained, with all these goals I want to accomplish, is it ever achievable, or is it too late? I was doubting myself. After Google searching the famous quote "Jack all trades, master of none", I came across a David Epstein interview discussing this book, that peaked my interests to learn more. No matter what's your path, objective or goals are , this book will give you the added armor to follow through. If majority of individuals cannot comprehend your methods of survival, so be it, because at the end of the day you are only comparing and competing with yourself, no one else. Don't worry, your love ones will benefit from your gains, but it's up to you to make this happen. This book speaks volumes!
Thanks D. Epstein!
Ray

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Mind opening

Really great book. could not put it down. loved all the different examples it provided.

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  • anon.
  • 2019-06-07

If you're highly curious, read this

Who will like this book
* If your friends would describe you as highly curious, you’ll like this book
* If you’re an investor, a business owner, a researcher, a scientist, a musician, a writer, a director, an athlete, or really anyone dealing with complex questions or seeking world-class achievement, you’ll like this book
* If you care about doing the most good for the world and maximizing your positive impact on the world, you’ll like this book
* If you’ve thought about how to increase innovation and problem solving in the world, you’ll like this book
* If you’ve thought about what makes great inventors or innovators great, and how to identify and encourage world-class talent, you’ll like this book
* If you like books like “Sapiens,” “Poor Charlie’s Almanack,” “Elephant in the Brain,” “Principles,” you’ll like this book
* If you have ADHD, you’ll like this book
* If your job or passion involves trying to accurately forecast the future, you’ll like this book

The benefits you’ll get from this book
* You’ll see how to achieve more, professionally
* You’ll understand the ways your understanding of the 10,000 Hour rule has been wrong
* You’ll better understand the path to world-class achievement
* You’ll better understand how to spot potential world-class achievers
* You’ll better understand how to forecast the future
* You’ll better understand how to solve complex challenges where the answers aren’t obvious, both in your work and personal life

Conclusion
If you think that you'll benefit from it based on my above notes, I recommend buying it. If you're on the fence, listen to interviews with the author either on the "Invest Like The Best" or the "Econtalk" podcasts to get a better sense.

After you read it
Search YouTube and watch the talk called “Greatness Cannot Be Planned.” It extends the ideas from this book in a brilliant way.
If you like the Greatness Cannot Be Planned, then you’ll also enjoy the following books: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” “Where Good Ideas Come From,” and the chapter on the evolution of technology from “The Evolution of Everything.”
Also search google for the blog post “Focus May Be Your Worst Enemy in Biotech R&D” — it also resonates with the ideas from this book.

P.S. If you’re a curious person, and you probably are because you’re looking at books and reading the reviews, definitely get this book!
P.P.S. This book is the next “Sapiens.”

73 of 76 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian Tudor
  • Cincinnat, OH
  • 2019-06-06

Generally Speaking…

As someone who has a vast amount of hobbies and interests I found Range to be a very well informed look at the idealized nature of success based on having a wealth of experience to draw upon. Epstein is a wonderful writer whom I have enjoyed since his time at Sports Illustrated and Will Damron did a great job narrating the book. If you are someone in a field where innovation is the order of the day this book is for you. If you work in HR, Management, or College admissions, this is the book for you. Understanding how to look at all the salient data points to see the full story of a problem, product, or most importantly a person is broken down in Range to help you find the most successful teams in the last place you'd think to look.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • GuamUsa65
  • Eugene, OR
  • 2019-10-22

Excellent read for 50 somethings like myself who has peaked in one field but is far from done in contributing to this world.

I am 50 something and her and CEO and people keep asking me what do I do now that I’ve peaked. I am nowhere close to being done and my contributing to my country, people of Guam or family. This book is in inspiration to all of us who have meandered our way through our lives to relative success but still feel like Caesar that our life has just begun!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Yoshida
  • 2019-08-02

Good premise but poor support for it

The point of this book is that specialists do well in a 'kind' world, where rules are clear and feedback is immediate (like playing golf or chess). Generalists do well in a 'wicked' world, where rules are unclear or unknown and feedback is not immediate (like practicing medicine). Therefore, a cardiologist with a wider range of knowledge (like nutrition and physiology) would make a better doctor than one who is focused only on acquiring more technical knowledge about the heart. Unfortunately, the author does a poor job of supporting this premise. The stories and studies in the book really support the idea of being exposed to a wide range of activities and experiences instead of any specialization at a young age. This would give a person a better foundation so that later in life, that person can find an area of expertise that is a fit and can draw on that varied, past experiences for innovative solutions in their area of expertise (instead of a myopic view of the world through the perspective of their specialization).

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • ST
  • 2019-06-05

I wish I had this book 10 years ago

Having been raised, and currently living, in an environment dominated by the philosophy of “Grit” and the “10,000 hour rule”, this book is a refreshing look at those who have thrived on the other end of that spectrum. I wish this book was written 10 years ago; it would have saved me a lot of time and grief.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Zack
  • 2019-08-11

Gladwell-Esque Supplement to Fuzzy and the Techie

3.5 — I can't help but think of this in relation to The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World. Both address a similar idea, but with with slightly different focuses. Range was more personal, sharing case studies of individuals who got late starts or hopped across industries/careers/specializations. Stylistically, it's one of those Gladwell-esque books that follows the case-study-illustrating-a-broader-lesson formula. What has stuck with me from The Fuzzy and the Techie, in contrast, was the more societal stuff: how some of the jobs we think of as most secure (STEM, coding, etc.) may actually be vulnerable as AI and automation advance, whereas cross-disciplinary, expansive, critical thinking-oriented skill sets will be in demand (because those functions simply can't be replicated by computers). On that front, I thought Fuzzy was stronger, but Range was a great supplement, particularly in its explanation of "kind" vs. "wicked" learning environments and those implications. The case studies were interesting, too, running the gamut from Roger Federer to musically virtuousic brothel orphans.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • EIN
  • 2019-09-06

We all could use some range

This is a must read for anyone in any field. Some controversial schools of thought but certainly many valid points.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • A Baker
  • 2019-07-17

A gem worth 6 out of 5 stars

Wow. The book description does not come close to justifying the depth, importance, knowledge value, quality of writing AND narration, breadth of life and career applicability, insight, credibility, and even the level of entertainment contained herein. Epstein did a stellar job of painting a complete picture of how we think, problem solve, interact, learn, grow, and progress in life. Showing the necessity of continuous analytical curiosity and critical thinking development.

This book contains mountains of important lessons, perfectly curated to provide a complete, deep understanding of our skill sets in the world. I have a top five reading list in psychology, critical thinking, statistics, and philosophy.. this book thoroughly competes with the entire combination of my essential reads.

I could go on and on. But I’ll end with this, if you have any interest in deep learning and critical thinking, this book is my #1 recommendation for most important work of the decade.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Cunha
  • Brazil
  • 2019-06-21

Interesting

Interesting content, but falls short of proving the case that one is better off embracing being a generalist today to "triumph" (present tense) as the subtitle suggests. It rather makes an interesting case as to why generalists should be more valued than they currently are.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • CJ Torres
  • 2019-12-12

Essential reading!!!

Astounding, I absolutely loved every minute of range! It sheds light on so many questions I have had for so long. Not only does this book confirm so many thoughts that I share with the author it also forces me to rethink so many other notions I have as fallible. As a struggling generalist I realize my winding path is not one without conviction but one in search of conviction. Thank you for this wonderfully written manuscript about life experimentation.