Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. His 1999 profile of Ron Popeil won a National Magazine Award, and in 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference," (2000) , "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" (2005), and "Outliers: The Story of Success" (2008) all of which were number one New York Times bestsellers. His latest book, "What the Dog Saw" (2009) is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker.
From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City.
What the Dog Saw
And Other Adventures
Little, Brown and Company, 2008
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?
In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point; Blink; and Outliers. Now, in What the Dog Saw, he brings together, for the first time, the best of his writing from The New Yorker over the same period.
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.
"Good writing," Gladwell says in his preface, "does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head."
What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary.
The Story of Success
Little, Brown and Company, 2008
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.
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Back Bay Books, 2007
In his #1 bestseller, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. In Blink, he revolutionizes the way we understand the world within. How do we make decisions -- good and bad -- and why are some people so much better at it than others? That's the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in Blink. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, examining case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music, and the New Coke, Gladwell shows how the difference between good decision making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but rather with the few particular details on which we focus. Blink displays all of the brilliance that has made Malcolm Gladwell's journalism so popular and his books such perennial bestsellers as it reveals how all of us can become better decision makers -- in our homes, our offices, and in everyday life.
The Tipping Point
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Back Bay Books, 2002
"The Tipping Point" is that magical moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshhold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a sick individual in a crowded store can start can epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend or the popularity of a new restaurant to take off overnightor crime or drug use to taper off. Gladwell has explored this theory to great acclaim in several articles in The New Yorker. Here, he shows how very minor adjustments in products and ideas can make them more likely to become hugely popular. He reveals how easy it is to cause group behavior to tip in a desirable direction by making small changes in our immediate environment. The Tipping Point contains a profoundly hopeful idea that people will embrace for its sense and simplicity: one imaginative person, applying a well-placed lever, can move the world. Examples are recognizable: in the New York subways, removing graffiti caused a dramatic reduction in crime; a specific hip group of teenagers wore Hush Puppies and suddenly sparked a national craze. This is a book that should be read by everyone in business, politics, marketing, advertising, and anyone interested in trends, fashion, fads, policy making, and human behaviour. In other words, all of us.
What the Dog Saw
And Other Adventures
Gladwell's fourth book comprises various contributions to the New Yorker and makes for an intriguing and often hilarious look at the hidden extraordinary. He wonders what... hair dye tell[s] us about twentieth century history, and observes firsthand dog whisperer Cesar Millan's uncanny ability to understand and be understood by his pack. Gladwell pulls double duty as author and narrator; while his delivery isn't the most dramatic or commanding, the material is frequently astonishing, and his reading is clear, heartfelt, and makes for genuinely pleasurable listening. -- Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"[Malcolm Gladwell] is one of the brightest stars in the media firmament...Gladwell's clear prose and knack for upending conventional wisdom across the social sciences have made The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers, as well as his lengthy magazine features on topics ranging from cool-hunting to ketchup, into must reads."
-- Time.com Alex Altman
"This evidence of a Gladwell effect helps to predict something larger: that Mr. Gladwell's new book will be as successful as his first three...This book full of short conversation pieces is a collection that plays to the author's strengths. It underscores his way of finding suitably quirky subjects (the history of women's hair-dye advertisements; the secret of Heinz's unbeatable ketchup; even the effects of women's changing career patterns on the number of menstrual periods they experience in their lifetimes) and using each as gateway to some larger meaning."
-- New York Times Janet Maslin
"Gladwell is a writer of many gifts. His nose for the untold back story will have readers repeatedly muttering, "Gee, that's interesting!" He avoids shopworn topics, easy moralization and conventional wisdom, encouraging his readers to think again and think different...Some chapters are masterpieces in the art of the essay."
-- The New York Times Book Review Steven Pinker
"Uniformly delightful...Malcolm Gladwell can write engrossingly about just about anything...His witty, probing articles are as essential to David Remnick's New Yorker as those of Wolcott Gibbs and A.J. Liebling were to Harold Ross's...Gladwell has a gift for capturing personalities, a Borscht Belt comic's feel for timing and a bent for counterintuitive thinking. He loves to start a piece by settling you onto a cushion of received ideas, then yanking it out from under you."
-- Bloomberg News Craig Seligman
"Malcolm Gladwell triumphantly returns to his roots with this collections of his great works from The New Yorker Magazine....Do yourself a favor and curl up with What the Dog Saw this week: It is more entertaining and edifying than should be legal for any book."
Louisville Courier-Journal Scott Coffman
"In What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell leads the reader on delightful side excursions, shows with insightful conversation how one path interweaves with another, and suggests meaning-he is, in short, an interpretative naturalist of American culture."
-- The Oregonian Alice Evans
The Story of Success
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.
From Publishers Weekly
Reviewed by Leslie Chang
In Outliers, Gladwell (The Tipping Point) once again proves masterful in a genre he essentially pioneered—the book that illuminates secret patterns behind everyday phenomena. His gift for spotting an intriguing mystery, luring the reader in, then gradually revealing his lessons in lucid prose, is on vivid display. Outliers begins with a provocative look at why certain five-year-old boys enjoy an advantage in ice hockey, and how these advantages accumulate over time. We learn what Bill Gates, the Beatles and Mozart had in common: along with talent and ambition, each enjoyed an unusual opportunity to intensively cultivate a skill that allowed them to rise above their peers. A detailed investigation of the unique culture and skills of Eastern European Jewish immigrants persuasively explains their rise in 20th-century New York, first in the garment trade and then in the legal profession. Through case studies ranging from Canadian junior hockey champions to the robber barons of the Gilded Age, from Asian math whizzes to software entrepreneurs to the rise of his own family in Jamaica, Gladwell tears down the myth of individual merit to explore how culture, circumstance, timing, birth and luck account for success -- and how historical legacies can hold others back despite ample individual gifts. Even as we know how many of these stories end, Gladwell restores the suspense and serendipity to these narratives that make them fresh and surprising.One hazard of this genre is glibness. In seeking to understand why Asian children score higher on math tests, Gladwell explores the persistence and painstaking labor required to cultivate rice as it has been done in East Asia for thousands of years; though fascinating in its details, the study does not prove that a rice-growing heritage explains math prowess, as Gladwell asserts. Another pitfall is the urge to state the obvious: No one, Gladwell concludes in a chapter comparing a high-IQ failure named Chris Langan with the brilliantly successful J. Robert Oppenheimer, not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires and not even geniuses -- ever makes it alone. But who in this day and age believes that a high intelligence quotient in itself promises success? In structuring his book against that assumption, Gladwell has set up a decidedly flimsy straw man. In the end it is the seemingly airtight nature of Gladwell's arguments that works against him. His conclusions are built almost exclusively on the findings of others -- sociologists, psychologists, economists, historians -- yet he rarely delves into the methodology behind those studies. And he is free to cherry-pick those cases that best illustrate his points; one is always left wondering about the data he evaluated and rejected because it did not support his argument, or perhaps contradicted it altogether. Real life is seldom as neat as it appears in a Malcolm Gladwell book.
-- Leslie T. Chang, author of Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
Like his previous work, The Tipping Point, Blink is a thought-provoking, category-defying book. The audio is read by the author with care and conviction.
-- AudioFile Magazine
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.
Gladwell includes caveats about leaping to conclusions: marketers can manipulate our first impressions, high arousal moments make us "mind blind," focusing on the wrong cue leaves us vulnerable to "the Warren Harding Effect" (i.e., voting for a handsome but hapless president). In a provocative chapter that exposes the "dark side of blink," he illuminates the failure of rapid cognition in the tragic stakeout and murder of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx. He underlines studies about autism, facial reading and cardio uptick to urge training that enhances high-stakes decision-making. In this brilliant, cage-rattling book, one can only wish for a thicker slice of Gladwell's ideas about what Blink Camp might look like.
From Publishers Weekly -- Starred Review
Best-selling author Gladwell (The Tipping Point) has a dazzling ability to find commonality in disparate fields of study. As he displays again in this entertaining and illuminating look at how we make snap judgments -- about people's intentions, the authenticity of a work of art, even military strategy -- he can parse for general readers the intricacies of fascinating but little-known fields like professional food tasting (why does Coke taste different from Pepsi?). Gladwell's conclusion, after studying how people make instant decisions in a wide range of fields from psychology to police work, is that we can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts -- and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more. Perhaps the most stunning example he gives of this counterintuitive truth is the most expensive war game ever conducted by the Pentagon, in which a wily marine officer, playing "a rogue military commander" in the Persian Gulf and unencumbered by hierarchy, bureaucracy and too much technology, humiliated American forces whose chiefs were bogged down in matrixes, systems for decision making and information overload. But if one sets aside Gladwell's dazzle, some questions and apparent inconsistencies emerge. If doctors are given an algorithm, or formula, in which only four facts are needed to determine if a patient is having a heart attack, is that really educating the doctor's decision-making ability -- or is it taking the decision out of the doctor's hands altogether and handing it over to the algorithm? Still, each case study is satisfying, and Gladwell imparts his own evident pleasure in delving into a wide range of fields and seeking an underlying truth.
-- Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Tipping Point
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Why is it that fashion trends change the way we dress? Why do various TV shows, movies, and books become so popular? Malcolm Gladwell provides a diagram of our society, along with an analysis of the strategies people apply to influence and mold its direction. Gladwell describes the personality types that create trends and those that influence others by "spreading the word." History takes on a whole new perspective as he describes events of early America that specifically follow his theories of "selling the public on an idea" and "social epidemics." Feedback from market mavericks further substantiates Gladwell's viewpoints.
-- B.J.P. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
...Gladwell manages to make sense of a tantalizing array of research findings.
-- Lisbeth Schorr, Harvard Project on Effective Interventions, and author of Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America
...a fascinating account...valuable...
-- Chicago Tribune, 3/26/00
...a terrifically rewarding read...
-- Seattle Times, 3/24/00
...brimming with new theories on the science of manipulation...
-- Time Out New York, 3/2-9/00
Anyone interested in fads should read The Tipping Point...
-- US Magazine, 3/27/00
Hip and hopeful, The Tipping Point, is like the idea it describes: concise, elegant but packed with social power. A book for anyone who cares about how society works and how we can make it better.
-- George Stephanopoulos
Malcolm Gladwell proposes a fascinating and possibly useful theory in The Tipping Point...what makes his book so appealing is the way he approaches his subject...he follows his precept of his subtitle and explores the little things that make a big difference...
-- New York Times, 2/28/00
The primary reason for the historic and rapid declines in crime and disorder in the subways and on the streets of New York City in the early 1990s was police activity. Police focused their activities on controlling illegal behavior to such an extent that they changed that behavior. Malcolm Gladwell's book and its theories, particularly the 'Power of Context,' clearly describes how crime and disorder were rapidly 'tipped.' It is a vital and 'must read' addition to the on-going debate about what really causes crime and disorder and how best to deal with it.
-- Commissioner William J. Bratton
The Tipping Point is one of those rare books that changes the way you think about, well, everything. A combination of lucid explanation with vivid (and often funny) real-world examples, the book sets out to explain nothing less than why human beings behave the way they do. And, astonishingly, Malcolm Gladwell had the smarts and panache to pull it off.
-- Jeffrey Toobin, author of A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President
What someone once said about the great Edmund Wilson is as true of Malcolm Gladwell: he gives ideas the quality of action. Here he's written a wonderful page turner about a fascinating idea that should effect the way every thinking person thinks about the world around him.
-- Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker and The New New Thing
TEDTalks | Malcom Gladwell: What we can learn from spaghetti sauce
Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry's pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.
@KatieCouric interviews Malcolm Gladwell
Katie Couric speaks with author and pop culture pundit, Malcolm Gladwell, who speaks about social media, book ideas for the future and also gives outlook for the next decade.
TEDTalks | The Norden Bombsight
Master storyteller Malcolm Gladwell tells the tale of the Norden bombsight, a groundbreaking piece of World War II technology with a deeply unexpected result.