Book review: »David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants «

Malcolm Gladwell questions the notion of winners and losers: is it really always the high and mighty of the two adversaries who wins the battle? Instinctively most people believe in the superiority of massive, powerful organisations. In reality though, it is often the loners, underdogs, misfits and revolutionaries who change things. In our times, relatively small groups of protesters are capable of threatening entire governments and small innovative units are able to cause havoc in traditional industries. At the core of change is not big or small, but creativity and innovation. But also in regards to those notions Gladwell – a professional journalist with the New York Times – challenges our convictions. Generally we believe that innovation is caused by somebody who has learned to think out of the box. That may well be the case, says Gladwell, but many innovators only become creative because they have to overcome resistance. There are personalities who grow with setbacks, failure and hurdles and then develop a strength that helps them to change the world. And if not the world, then an entire industry. He describes dyslexics, cripples, orphans and the victims of nasty prejudices and how they struggle towards success. True – some of his stories are heart-breaking and not all of these born warriors are very likable characters. But the message is positive in the end: If you manage to turn your disadvantages into strengths and to cleverly out-manoeuvre the advantages of your enemies you might come out on top. It’s not always greatness that wins, but often enough the efforts of those who learn from difficult experiences, develop a thick skin and use their skills and ideas to make a difference.

Source: Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company