Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know

Book - 2019
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Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast 'Revisionist History' and author of 'The Tipping Point', 'Outliers', and 'What the Dog Saw', offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers - and why they often go wrong. Gladwell is originally from Toronto, ON.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316478526
Branch Call Number: 302 Gla
Characteristics: xii, 386 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm

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Bududo
Jan 27, 2020

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.

a
ADF1971
Jan 08, 2020

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.

a
andrewhulme
Jan 06, 2020

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.

k
kwsmith
Dec 29, 2019

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.

j
Jocko_7
Dec 27, 2019

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.

s
sunnyblonde
Dec 24, 2019

Interesting information

s
sgcf
Dec 11, 2019

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.

m
MikeHanafin
Dec 10, 2019

I usually enjoy reading Gladwell's books--I learn something, or lots of things, every time. And I learned a lot from this book too...but it was a bit frustrating to read. Frankly, far too much meandering and multiple stories blending into each other. So maybe it's a matter of the style or structure of the book this time.
And as usual, a lot of footnotes--almost like he wanted to write another 100 pages, but his editor wouldn't let him. Smart editor. This book could have been 100 pages shorter and managed the same conclusion.
It's still a worthwhile book to read, and you have to read it right to the end to get maximum value from it, because he opens with a story of two strangers meeting in a catastrophic way ...then 300+ pages later, revisits that story, now equipped with all the info and knowledge we have gained.
The book also takes some very dark turns that I'm not sure were necessary--for instance, delving into the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case (uuugh).
I have noted (after I read the book) that many reviews were not positive. Some questioned his premise. I did not.
But overall, worth the read, to expand our knowledge and interpretation of the many twists and turns of human interaction. It's complicated. And as Gladwell points out (many times) getting it wrong has dangerous consequences.

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IvyDigest
Dec 04, 2019

Not every flimsy idea needs a book. I tried to understand and follow the threadbare logic but it's not worth your time. Even if we talk to strangers, we still won't understand everything they do. Trying to link disparate instances in history do not prove a premise. Move on.

@IvyDigest on Instagram for more nonfiction book reviews

c
chriswoodrich
Dec 01, 2019

Gladwell's decline continues. (Was he ever more than a fabulist?)

We're bad at talking to strangers. That's it. That's the only takeaway.

This book is threadbare in its thesis of trying to connect Sandra Bland's suicide to a routine moving violation stop gone awry.

Gladwell is still a good storyteller, but with Talking to Strangers that's all you have. And almost nothing in this book in not the sort of cherry-picked, just-so story that Gladwell trafficks in.

This is a book you can skip.

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