What The Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell

>> Monday, June 20, 2011

TITLE: What The Dog Saw
AUTHOR: Malcolm Gladwell

PAGES: 410

TYPE: Collection of essays

Malcolm Gladwell is a master of playful yet profound insight. In "What the Dog Saw" his adventurous curiosity is at full stretch, as he takes everyday subjects and shows us surprising new ways of looking at them.

What can hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard but only one of ketchup? What didn't the inventor of the birth-control pill know about women's health? Why may a problem like homelessness be easier to solve than to manage? Who do we hire when we can't tell who's right for the job? What's the difference between choking and panicking? What can pit bulls teach us about crime? And are smart people actually rather overrated? Gladwell introduces us to obsessives, pioneers and minor geniuses, diagnoses some of our greatest and most overlooked problems and explores the confounding mysteries of our characters, personalities and intelligence.

"What the Dog Saw" is Malcolm Gladwell at his best. Whether it's criminal profiling or dog training, Gladwell gives us a completely new perspective and a glimpse into other people's heads.
What The Dog Saw is a collection of articles in The New Yorker. It looks like most of them are still available for free online, but since I got the book from the library, I didn't mind that at all. And I liked sometimes having a little note at the end updating us on how things had turned out in the years after the article had been published.

I enjoyed it. Gladwell has a knack for finding subjects that feel new and fresh. For most of them, it was the first time I've ever even wondered about them (seriously, have any of you wondered why we take the Pill in batches of 21, and what that might have to do with their inventor's religion?) For others, it feels like no one has approached them in quite that way before.

A note on the writing, though: Gladwell's got a very idiosyncratic writing voice. I can easily imagine people hating it. It would probably be sensible to read one of the articles online, I would say, to see how you feel about it. Me, I can tolerate it in small doses. I only read one or two of the essays in a row; more than that, and Gladwell's writing starts to grate on me.

Anyway, if you want to sample the writing, the article I found most interesting was one that showed how sometimes the most efficient way of managing a problem is not necessarily the fairest one. As a government economist, who often gets quite involved in the policymaking process (albeit in an advisory role), it really was food for thought.

Also, writers will probably be especially interested in the article that deals with plagiarism and copying.



Post a Comment

Blog template by simplyfabulousbloggertemplates.com

Back to TOP