Malcolm Gladwell’s elegant and wildly popular theories about modern life have turned his name into an adjective—Gladwellian! But in his new book, he seeks to undercut the cult of success, including his own, by explaining how little control we have over it.
Jason Zengerle in New York Magazine:
Outliers is at once Gladwell’s least and most ambitious book. Unlike The Tipping Point and Blink, which took their counterintuitiveness to extremes, the conventional wisdom Gladwell seeks to demolish in Outliers isn’t even really CW anymore. Is there anyone who still believes that “success is exclusively a matter of individual merit,” which is how Gladwell describes his straw man? And yet, as Gladwell examines all the things other than individual merit—the “hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies”—that produce hockey stars and software billionaires and math geniuses, he builds a brief for a massive reorganization of social structures and institutions that will give people who don’t have those advantages and opportunities and legacies an equal shot at success.