An Intellectual Journey Through The World of "Outliers"

"What makes high-achievers different?" In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful.

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.  Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

If it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master, as Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his latest book "Outliers, The Story of Success", he himself, has become one. With this third addition to his influential set which includes his original masterpiece, "The Tipping Point", Gladwell has shown us once again, that the rudimentary skills of good writing require only observation and simplicity. He has risen to be perhaps this country's foremost journalistic story teller and "Outliers" will emerge, it must emerge, as one of the most important stories of our century.

This is a very entertaining and informative book which attempts to explain why some people become successful and others do not. Gladwell investigates such things as IQ, time of birth, country of origin and, perhaps most important, family background.

Gladwell is a marvelous storyteller who opens with an intriguing description of the Italian village of Roseto, where "virtually no one under fifty-five had died of a heart attack," and where the death rate was remarkably lower than expected. Fifty years ago, a physician conducted a study to determine whether Rosetans followed a strict diet or exercised vigorously. There had to be some explanation for their unusual good health. Why was this town an "outlier," "a place that lay outside everyday experience, where the normal rules did not apply?" The study's findings demonstrate that in order to understand outliers, we have to look at a number of diverse factors.

The author contends that a whole host of elements may come into play, such as one's date of birth, cultural milieu, religious background, and economic advantages. To some extent, everyone, no matter how gifted, is a product of his or her environment, upbringing, and opportunities. Those who achieve success often profit from a special combination of ability, determination, hard work, and luck. Otherwise, they might be destined to muddle along like the rest of us average folk.

"Outlier" is not just about success. It is also about spectacular failure, such as the horrendous crashes that for a time made Korean Air a pariah in aviation circles. Why, between 1988 and 1998, did this airline have a "loss rate" seventeen times higher than United Airlines? To understand this, we have to analyze how "cultural legacies" exert their own power throughout the generations.

Malcolm Gladwell famously noted that in every child prodigy, young genius, or early Millionaire story, there was a race to hit 10,000 hours of experience. Whether it's dancing, playing an instrument, cold calling sales, playing basketball, there seems to be a very clear distinction between those who've hit the 10,000 hour mark, and those who don't. And the key, is to hit it very early, so you can be the most talented guy/girl in your age group, and rake in all the glory. The only way to do that, is to have an edge. For Bill Gates, it was his Private High school's computer lab. For the Beatles, it was playing bars in Germany for 8-12 hours a day.

The second part, titled legacy, argues for the idea that the values and traditions of a certain culture make its people either more or less qualified to succeed at certain tasks. For instance persistence and hard-work are hallmarks of the chinese culture assimilated by countless decades of tedious rice cultivation. It is instructive to note that cultivating rice requires ten to twenty times the effort needed to cultivate the same area with wheat. Owing to their culture, chinese students are more persistent and hard-working hence better than western children at such subjects as mathematics eventhough their IQ is equivalent or, more often than not, slightly less than their western counterparts.

Gladwell ends this book with a reflective account of his own family's road map to success, including some very interesting insights into the multi-faceted role race played in his own family