Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

PictureThis is a non-fiction sociological book which sets out to explain how certain people become successful. Its main message is that nobody ‘makes it’ alone and it all depends on circumstance and those around you.

Several chapters are short biographies of various people who have been considered a genius, all of them explaining just how it was that they became successful. These range from Bill Gates to The Beatles and are all very interesting to read. What’s common among all of them though is that they all had a large number of big opportunities which were given to them, opportunities which simply are (or were) not available to everybody. Most of these, generally, were down to chance and good luck.

But the most interesting part of the book, I thought, was what it had to say about current education systems. It seems that a lot of schools are inadvertently giving preferential treatment to those students who were born in the months near the start of the school year compared to those born near the end of it. This is because children born in the months at the start of a school year will be a little older than those born at the end and therefore naturally just a little better due to further development. From an early age, these children are then put into the better classes where they’ll be given better treatment than those in the lower classes and so it will go on for their entire school lives.

It also spoke about how some behaviours of people are very deeply rooted in culture and family history. An interesting, but very disturbing, part of the book spoke about the reasons behind aeroplane crashes (including actual transcripts from black box recordings). It seems that a large number of plane crashes are caused by co-pilots being embarrassed to point out to the pilot (their superior) that they have made a mistake. So, sadly, it seems people have died directly because of politeness.

On the whole, this book provides an interesting look at the world and the way that things work. It’s well worth a read and contains some surprising information.

Rating: 8/10

Buy it here.

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