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An interesting overview of the way we interact with strangers from various perspectives via interesting relatable narratives. Would not have picked based on the title but it chosen as a read or the Mac alum book club. Glad they did.
4 stars. This book was recommended to me highly by family members and is my non-fiction read of January. I found it to be a very interesting read about how we don't read other people well and how it impacts others, using some very famous examples of mis-reading gone wrong. it is a very thought provoking subject and had me pondering the issues raised long after I'd turned the last page.
For some reason I went into this book thinking it was going to tell me how to be better at "talking to strangers." Instead, the book highlights three societal characteristics that influence WHY we often mess up in our judgments and actions when talking to strangers. Regardless, I still found the book fascinating and fell down some rabbit holes looking into some of the stories he shared. Malcolm Gladwell entertains and educates his readers with ease.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Talking to Strangers, he does a brilliant job challenging common thought around some high-profile catastrophes. Through a compelling combination of skillful storytelling and shrewd observation he is able to construct a much deeper understanding around these situations than we might have thought. Where most would be inclined to construct a superficial narrative around these events, Gladwell is able to connect the contextual dots to arrive at a stronger, though less obvious conclusion.
If you enjoy insightful books about human behavior, you'll like this book. Gladwell takes research statistics and merges them with case studies to create a compelling book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“To assume the best about another is the trait that has created modern society.”
“Because we do not know how to talk to strangers, what we do when things go awry with strangers? We blame the stranger.”
Interesting stories picked to prove his way of thinking, but as the same shows it’s never strait forward as it seems.
This was hand deliver to the library at the same time I picked up The book" What's funny about me".
Fascinating look at human behavior that reads more like individual essays, than one cohesive story.
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2020
There is no doubt in my mind that Malcom Gladwell can make usually droll research findings , facts and statistics absolutely fascinating. He has proved it time and time in books like BLINK and THE TIPPING POINT, among others. He has a gift for using .real human interest stories as analogies to explain scientific findings to laymen. This book reminded me how much I want my go back over his body of work, reading anything I have missed.
That said, TALKING TO STRANGERS isn't one of his better books. It was absolutely interesting and timely (more so than he could have forseen. It touches on Black Lives Matter and what's wrong with Policing In America, yet its publication predates the horror of the callous murder of George Floyd, possibly by mere months. The problem, with the book, for me, lies in the attempt to corral the various stories and social research entries under a single broad heading, that is the title of the book. It seemed like a stretch to me without a satisfactory conclusion, or even much insight into how to correct the rampant miscommunication, missed opportunities for understanding, and dead wrong assumptions that happen, when strangers meet face to face, all too often leading to tragic consequences.
The books message is mixed, concluding that giving stranger the benefit of the doubt is better for, and necessary, to have a functioning society. This is almost in direct opposition to the first part of the book which determines that we are terrible at spotting liars, even when the stakes are high and we are given reasons to suspect them. "We default to the truth" and brush away our doubts. This kind of thinking allowed double agents to act against US interests, sometimes for years, costing the lives of many CIA spies.
It is a fascinating book but it reads more like a series of essays on social behavior that are not necessarily related, but still, well worth reading.
Malcolm uses many case studies and also cites significant cases such as Brock Turner and Sandra Bland. The book provokes thoughts and asks its readers to think deeper, to try and understand why we think the way we do, and assume things about strangers with one interaction. How do we decide if someone is lying to us? Is the truth subjective or is it perspective? Can we determine if a person is lying by facial expressions or do we need more? While there are no real answers or conclusions stated In the book, it leaves a realm for open-ended interpretations. The readers can come to their own conclusion ironically relating to the fact that we take our stand about strangers with just a conversation. The title correctly justifies the ideas expressed in the story, making it a compelling read!
In addition to the insightful perceptions of Malcolm Gladwell regarding the tools and strategies we use to evaluate the strangers we meet this book has interesting ties to Kansas City. He reviews multiple case studies about Kansas City’s efforts to reduce crime. Starting in the 1970’s Kansas City tried to improve the way police deployed their forces to reduce crime by employing a criminologist. It was the first of several attempts that ultimately became known as the “Kansas City Model”. Gladwell takes a critical look at how our attempts to learn why people act as they do and why anticipating their behavior is so fraught with problems.
Gladwell’s well researched investigations reviews how Cuba was able to plant spies within our intelligence agencies, why Neville Chamberlain placed his trust in Hitler and how Bernard Madoff was able to fraudulently gain the trust of many seemingly sophisticated investors. Gladwell illustrates why talking with strangers is more complex than we ever knew and our how assumptions can lead us down paths that can have devastating consequences.
Malcolm Gladwell has written a book about various scenarios where understanding strangers has come to the fore. Each of these topics is interesting and we learn what we should know about the people we don't know. As Lionel Beehner says Gladwell could probably make a pencil sharpener interesting, if he were given an assignment to write about it. He is a wonderful reporter and writes well about the most mundane topics.
Excellent book with several key points well supported by research and by actual events. Unique way of viewing our assumptions and how they can lead us to disastrous conclusions. Very readable. It has expanded and informed my previous way of looking at people and events in the world. Highly recommend it.
Very interesting read! This was my first Gladwell book, and I am sure it won't be my last. This book takes a deep dive into the intricacies of human psychology, particularly around deception. Although this is the main focus, the book also touches on other seemingly unrelated topics which are nonetheless eventually integrated with the main theme of the book. Gladwell is quite talented! As you'll find, and as I have alluded to, he has a profound capacity to deeply explore a subject while maintaining a wide lens though which to do so. The book elucidates many very interesting stories, from the interactions of Cortes and Montezuma to the finds of an anthropologist in Bolivia. This book is a great read for just about anyone, but particularly for those who like variation in their reads. Enjoy!
A good read with some interesting insights. Malcolm Gladwell investigates what can go wrong when we interact with people we don't know. He uses many real scenarios from throughout history. I enjoyed the psychology aspect of this book and the many studies he discusses.
In this approachable, Science-based read author Malcolm Gladwell questions the capacity people have to actually assess another person's character, competency, emotions, and even guilt of a crime. He cites recent high attention cases, including both the Sandra Bland and Brock Turner cases, working to inspire the reader to question not only their immediate perceptions, but, what our perceptions are based on, and why we have them.
It was a heady, captivating read that most literally sent me into a bigger, better paradigm of thinking. I recommend this book to anyone excited to question reality as they see it. A must read!
There are about 3 big ideas in 345 pages, and I wish he had gotten to conclusions better than "we don't do a very good job at some things, but doing a good job would be result in a world worse than what we have." But it is a fun book.
As always Malcolm gives us an alternate way of looking at the world and the people and situations around us in a different way. It's unfortunate that network news doesn't use him to explain some of the ways he sees and interprets things.
The subject is an important topic that the author builds up to understand various aspects of where things go awry. Mr. Gladwell structures and presents each illustrative story in a way that we follow his conclusion. For the most part this works well. However, there are some cases where the author has not really established that his narrative is the only plausible one. Nevertheless, he makes a cogent case that communicating with strangers can be very fraught with misconceptions and misdirection. I have personally experienced this frustration so much of what he says resonates. The section on KSM, although fascinating, is a non-essential part of the primary narrative and appears to be a pad.
The Amanda Knox discussion was very interesting and seems to resolve what has bothered me about the case.
All in all, I recommend this book.
Taking complex, controversial subjects to a simple, ingestible form. We of course have the benefit of hindsight in all the examples provided so the critical thinking component is not there for the reader as the facts are slowly revealed. Quick and easy read that potentially will have you question how well you are at assessing someone and or a situation in the future.
I have read many of Gladwell's previous books and enjoyed them and learned from them. This book is not in the same league as his previous works. Perhaps its because the examples he discusses are from recent international news and are too familiar me? I get the impression that his latest work was written because 'he had to write a new book' to sustain his momentum. The only chapter that offer's Gladwell-style deep insights is chapter one. The others are duds.
In his usual pseudo-psychological journalist style, Gladwell unpacks the difficulty humans have determining when strangers are lying. I enjoyed the first part of the book, but found that the last part descended rapidly into sensational case studies that served more as journalistic "click bait" than as credible material for advancing his thesis. I think this is Gladwell's weakest book; however, it's still worth reading.
Once again, Malcom Gladwell comes through with an extraordinary book which offers several perspectives on recent events. Mr. Gladwell lets people think about topics without being preachy, judgemental, or overly political.
I was entertained and absorbed with Gladwell’s exposé about our gullibility, but necessity, of trusting strangers. Full of fascinating interpersonal behavior accounts. Turns out most of us are lousy at spotting liars, including criminal judges deciding about bail. Most enjoyable is Gladwell’s many engaging anecdotal stories from a wide variety of subjects, but ultimately did not answer the question, "What can I do about it?” Basically not much – there are too many factors involved in not understanding strangers.