Malcolm Gladwell champions the underdog in this, his most recent book, a collection of stories about people saddled with various handicaps who somehow put apparent drawbacks to good use and go on to defeat a much stronger foe. He explains how an Englishman named T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) was able to incite a disparate band of Arabs to revolt against the far superior forces of the Ottoman Empire and, against all the odds, win; and why a man from Mumbai was able to coach a gaggle of unskilled 12-year-olds to a level where they beat every basketball team they met in court. In Gladwell's opinion, the dyslexia that Gary Cohn, former senior executive at Goldman Sachs, had battled since childhood could account for a personality that resorted to a little trickery to pull off coups on Wall Street. Gladwell notes that Londoners who survived near-misses during the Blitz in the early 1940s emerged from the rubble of bombed buildings feeling much stronger than before.
Through various self-empowering tales, he presents the alluring thesis that adversity can actually act as a springboard to great achievements; that being a small fish in a big pond is actually better than the reverse. Gladwell's spin on these stories may not necessarily be correct or be backed up by any scientific proofs, as many critics of his have pointed out, but this book definitely makes you feel good about the endless possibilities this world of ours has to offer.
_ Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana
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