I was quite excited when I first heard that Malcolm Gladwell had a new book out. I received Outliers from Sarah & Dave for Christmas last year, which I devoured while I was in Mexico and soon after I discovered the free e-audiobooks at the library, I quickly devoured Blink and The Tipping Point too. Love, love, loved all three of those books. So when I saw that Gladwell’s new book, What the Dog Saw, was at the library as an e-audiobook, I signed right up to get a copy.
After having read it through, all I can give it is resounding “meh.” When I first got the book, I didn’t realize that it was just a collection of his old essays. His other books each had an overarching theory for which the book built a case. And while this book wasn’t intended to be that way1, I found it much less compelling than his other books. The stuff if in the essays was interesting, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere. You can definitely see glimpses of his other works – like the essay on how interviewers make snap judgments on people, which is clearly related to Blink – but I already read that stuff in his other books. Overall, I just felt like this book was put out with the thought “Hey, Malcolm Gladwell books sell like hotcakes – throw one together as fast as you can!” I guess I should have realized when What The Dog Saw was released this year, only a year after Outliers, that he couldn’t have written a whole book of new material and had it published that quickly!
Here’s hoping the next Gladwell book doesn’t come out for a few years!
- although it’s roughly structured into three separate “sections” of somewhat related essays, there isn’t really a coherent story in there, at least not as far as I could see [↩]