From The Guardian:
In 1984, a history graduate at the University of Toronto upped sticks and moved to Indiana. His grades weren't good enough to stay on for postgraduate work, he'd been rejected by more than a dozen advertising agencies, and his application for a fellowship “somewhere exotic” went nowhere. The only thing left was writing – but it turned out that Malcolm Gladwell knows how to write. Gladwell's journalistic trajectory from junior writer on the Indiana-based American Spectator to the doors of the New Yorker makes for a story in itself, but only after arriving at the magazine did he become established as one of the most imaginative non-fiction writers of his generation. As of last year, he had three bestsellers under his belt and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. Gladwell owes his success to the trademark brand of social psychology he honed over a decade at the magazine. His confident, optimistic pieces on the essence of genius, the flaws of multinational corporations and the quirks of human behaviour have been devoured by businessmen in search of a new guru. His skill lies in turning dry academic hunches into compelling tales of everyday life: why we buy this or that; why we place trust in flakey ideas; why we are hopeless at joining the dots between cause and effect. He is the master of pointing out the truths under our noses (even if they aren't always the whole truth).
Gladwell's latest book, What the Dog Saw, bundles together his favourite articles from the New Yorker since he joined as a staff writer in 1996. It makes for a handy crash course in the world according to Gladwell: this is the bedrock on which his rise to popularity is built. A warning, though: it's hard to read the book without the sneaking suspicion that you're unwittingly taking part in a social experiment he's masterminded to provide grist for his next book. Times are hard, good ideas are scarce: it may just be true. But more about that later.