Farhad Manjoo reviews Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell in Salon:
Is there any contemporary American writer more agreeable than Malcolm Gladwell? Any writer, I mean, whose work is as reliably well received by so many different sorts of people — men and women, liberals and conservatives, business folk and academics, hipsters and wannabes, the serious and the silly? Search all you want: You won’t find a reader who doesn’t at least like Gladwell, and more often than not your hunt will turn up Gladwell obsessives — people who may consider the New Yorker’s politics communistic, its fiction dry, and its movie reviews inscrutable but who nonetheless subscribe to the thing for the work of just this one staff writer. And when, periodically, one of Gladwell’s dispatches pops into the magazine’s pages, the Gladwell obsessive will devour the piece, smile broadly and consider his subscription money very well spent, for he’s now chock-full of the most precious cocktail party banter — on why ketchup tastes so good, say, or why disposable diapers are like microchips, or why we ought to appreciate the good work of Ron Popeil.
Brace yourself: The release of “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” Gladwell’s delightful new book, is sure to inspire orgies of Gladwell-mania among the with-it set, and obsessives will soon begin popping up all around you. “The Tipping Point,” Gladwell’s wildly popular first book, established the writer as a cultural force. The phrase “tipping point” — which refers to the point during the spread of an epidemic or a fad at which a certain critical mass is met and after which, more or less, all hell breaks loose — is now a permanent fixture in the corporate lexicon, as common a biz-speak crutch as “core competencies” or “going forward.” A profile of Gladwell in Fast Company, whose cover this month is graced by the bushy-haired writer, notes that Donald Rumsfeld has even talked about the war in Iraq as being a tipping-point phenomenon.