A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

Book Review: “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know” by Malcolm Gladwell

January 12, 2020
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Before anything, I should declare that I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books, and I have read every single one of them! I picked up his latest book, Talking to Strangers, with high expectations, but I should establish the fact that my high expectancies of this book were not quite met. By the time I had finished reading the book, I felt as though I had gone to see my favorite movie star in a movie just to find out that he had only a few short appearances here and there in the story line of the movie.

In the beginning of the book,  I was quite engaged in Malcolm Gladwell’s writings. Later on, however, he changes tone and starts telling us about all these famous, well-known crime stories, which we all already know by heart. We have followed these stories in the media in the past; we have sympathized with them; and we have filed them all in a compartment of our minds and put them away.  Reading these stories all over again was making me run out of patience and making me bored. The author is inconveniencing me, as a reader, just so that I could comprehend the point he is making. His argument is that we basically do not know how to talk to strangers, and, as a result, we get ourselves into disastrous situations. Reading through the pages of the book, I was hoping that he would at least offer us some solutions as to how to talk to strangers. Alas, I did not find a crumb of any solution or advice in the book.

My real disappointment came to me, when I could not see enough of Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant intellect in the book. More than fifty-percent of the book is telling us these famous media crime stories, which we already know. This book resembled a vehicle running on three wheels consisting of these stories of extensive research and data, and only one wheel was Malcolm Gladwell’s beautiful mind. It was as though the author had gathered together all these famous media crime cases as his book’s main ingredients. He had put them all in a pot, simmered them on very slow heat until tender, added all sorts of spices, and garnished with his own thoughts.

I excuse Gladwell for not having an extensive personal appearance in his latest book. He probably could be like a lot of other great artists, who are at their best when they are still hungry. It seems something strange happens to these great talents and minds when they reach the summit of their success. It seems as though their creative self is already drained and exhausted. They still want to give us all they have,  but they are like eagles who are already flying high — really high — but their audience wants them to fly even higher. And they can’t possibly fly any higher. That, I completely understand.

About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell, (born September 3, 1963, London, England), Canadian journalist and writer best known for his unique perspective on popular culture. He adeptly treaded the boundary between popularizer and intellectual. Read more…


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Posted in Book Reviews, Miscellaneous & Opinion, Reviews |

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