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Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know Kindle Edition
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Fascinating . . . you should read the book . . . He's tackling the dark side of human nature - what do we ever know about other people? -- Sathnam Sanghera ― The Times Magazine
Now that practically everybody seems to be spoiling for a fight, I have found Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers invaluable . . . His moral - to approach new people with caution and humility - has become my motto. ― Evening Standard
Taut, provocative, smart . . . Gladwell's cool, playful intelligence has made him one of our leading public thinkers ― New Statesman
A book examining the ways we misinterpret or fail to communicate with one another could not feel more necessary . . . the page-turning urgency of a thriller -- Chris Barton ― Los Angeles Times
Superb writing. Masterful . . . bears all the marks that have made Gladwell one of the most successful non-fiction authors of his generation. -- Pilita Clark ― Financial Times
A dazzling book . . . Gladwell is a rock star of nonfiction . . . ideas are slowly revealed until the reader arrives at a conclusion they didn't expect. Gladwell is advancing ideas and, sure, they are all open to challenge . . . but they are stimulating and convincing - and you won't regret a minute you spend mastering them ― The Times
A wonderful provocation which Gladwell delivers like no other, an awakening to just one of the fascinations that lie in ordinary human experience . . . as ever, Gladwell's genius is in the telling. ― Spectator
Malcolm Gladwell made his name bringing intellectual sparkle to everyday subjects, and his new book - about how strangers talk to each other - is no exception. -- Sean O’Hagan ― Observer --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- File size : 4444 KB
- Print length : 379 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Penguin (10 September 2019)
- ASIN : B07NC11JGM
- Language: : English
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #13,568 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Top reviews from India
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1. You will research a lot of unrelated anecdotes and try to piece them together. Even if the association of a particular anecdote, with your book’s central idea, is at best tenuous, still you would try to twist it into the story.
2. You will write it brilliantly. You will give away a sliver of a story here and another after a few pages and return to the story after a few chapters, trying to rise as many imaginary hairs as possible.
3. Try putting the title of the book at weird places. It has to be reminded to the readers once in a while that the title has something to do with the book, and that the interesting unrelated incidents you are narrating are in fact, justifiably included.
4. Of course, cash in your name, if it is popular enough. Spend some of the goodwill you generated previously by writing valuable books.
In summary, you try too hard. Malcolm Gladwell is guilty of the same crime.
But this is my personal opinion. Usually Malcom Gladwin is known for his interesting points but I think in this book he missed to place his points clearly.
Top reviews from other countries
However, I'm afraid this book has nothing to say. It is a compendium of interesting crime cases and celebrated moments from history and popular culture, ranging from Hitler to Friends to 9/11 and a whole load of controversial court cases, with some examination of suicide as a diversion. For the first half of it - and it's a very quick read, so do give it a try if you are inclined to doubt my criticism - I just found myself wondering: “where is he going with this? What is the thesis? What is his point?”
Ostensibly the book is about whether or not we can judge strangers. I think. But many of the examples that he draws on have no apparent lesson. Many of them are nice little vignettes which show how broad-ranging the author's mind is, and would make good “dinner party anecdotes” - but rather in a mansplaining vein, where you tell someone that what they think about Chamberlain and Hitler is so wrong because there's so much more to it... But actually they’re right.
There are digressions via Cuban spies, Bernie Madoff, Jerry Sandusky and Amanda Knox. All nicely told. But what does the book actually tell us? Sorry Mr Gladwell. I got nothing.
This is a thought-provoking book on the premise that the majority of people are unable to tell whether a stranger is trustworthy.
The author starts and ends with the true, tragic case of 28 year-old African American Sandra Bland, who in 2015 was pulled over by a traffic cop in Texas, arrested, and committed suicide in her jail cell three days later.
Chapters detail famous cases of the consequences of trusting – Montezuma and Cortes, Chamberlain and Hitler, spies undetected for years in high places. I couldn’t see the relevance of all the cases, for example the drunken rape case, interrogation methods and the Amanda Knox trials. A better example might have been the Lindy Chamberlain dingo case, to demonstrate how people mistrust innocent people whose body language does not match our expectations.
Gladwell asks “why can’t we tell when the stranger in front of us is lying?” He suggests that those recruiting, or judges setting bail, make better choices based on what they hear or read, rather than on who they are looking at. He also suggests that to keep society harmonious, we default to a position of trust.
We all know that those younger, prettier, taller, better dressed and educated – and in some cases whiter – have an advantage in life. I could add examples to the author’s, our former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman who was singled out in a first class carriage for a ticket check, the way the family of Stephen Lawrence were treated by the police.
I was still struggling to keep up and follow the train of thought at the chapter on coupling, the theory that, for example, if someone wants to commit suicide and at the perfect and ideal time the perfect and ideal method presents itself they will go ahead, otherwise they might not carry out the act.
I have read the transcript of the exchange between the cop and Sandra Bland and also watched a video of the exchange. The cop, who was rightly subsequently sacked, quickly became aggressive. But so did Bland – even the fact she lit a cigarette early in the exchange shocked me. These were two people with supressed anger and aggression, resentment, and preconceived judgements on both sides that escalated into disaster.
It turns out that the tragic Bland, who had a promising life ahead of her, had a troubled past. Certainly she should never have been pulled over, during an aggressive and unnecessary “stop and search” programme.
I also struggle to place the incident in the context of life in America, living as I do in England. It seems a uniquely American encounter to me. I cannot imagine anyone lighting a cigarette when pulled over by the police unless wishing for further antagonism, and British cops do not – yet – carry guns. But we currently have the situation here where anyone criticizing a certain new royal princess for acting like a prima donna film star flashing her cash is called “racist” when please, look at her – olive skin and sleek straight hair. It’s nothing to do with her background – her sister in law got equal flack for her mother’s profession. It’s about behaviours and we need to carefully separate the two, and challenge our own and others preconceptions.
Malorie Blackman politely challenged the ticket inspector: “Aren’t you going to check anyone else’s ticket?”. The family of Stephen Lawrence gained nationwide respect for their quiet dignity in their fight for justice. Sandra Bland was treated appallingly, humiliated and isolated, and she didn’t have the resources internal or external to overcome that treatment, spending her last days sobbing alone in her cell. A dreadful, damning example of policing gone awry. Perhaps she suspected she never would have found redress after release. This book, I hope, will in some way make up for that and I salute the author for it.
If you are new to Gladwell, you will greatly enjoy "Talking to Strangers"... as it is a must read for anybody who needs to make snap judgements about people's character and behavior.
Of course, if you are a fan of Gladwell, you will of course enjoy it, especially if you hear it on Audible. Gladwell produces the Audible version as if it was an extended episode of his "Revisionist History" Podcast. The music and all the extra interviews from actual people, really brings the book to life.
Heck... if you don't like it, return it... though if you start, you will probably keep it.
But, and it is a big but ...
What is the point of the book? There don't seen to be any startling insights. The vignettes are over-used and repetitive. There's almost nothing on solutions. In conclusion, a shallow second-rate book. Pity ...