Outliers: The Story of Success, By Malcolm Gladwell

Lesley McDowell
Saturday 22 October 2011 22:21

I'm surprised that Gladwell considers race (the effects of slave history) as a matter that has an effect on success, as well as nationality (whether you're American-Irish or American-Italian, for instance) and class (being poor, funnily enough, lessens your chances too), but omits gender: apparently, being female rather than male doesn't make a difference. A stunning omission, in my opinion.

Gladwell is focused on exposing the American dream – that by one's own exertions, anyone can make it to the top, regardless of circumstance and so on – and showing that those who do make it are "the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies", all of which means that he trawls through lots of statistics (what month the best hockey players were born; the amount of hours the Beatles had to play in Hamburg) to prove his thesis.

Marxist theory and feminist theory got there a long time ago, so there's not much new here, although it is possibly presented in a more palatable form for some.

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