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Book Review: David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell

Submitted by Bethany on Mon, 11/19/2018 - 10:00

I shared with you all last week that I have become obsessed with reading on my Kindle. To the point that I've finished two more books since I posted that last week. To the point that yesterday I deleted my Netflix profile because I just don't use it anymore. Ok and also so we could create a profile for my brother to use, but really mine had fallen by the wayside. Before we left the states this was unthinkable. I watched Netflix all - the - time - while I got ready for work in the morning, while I cooked lunch or dinner, while I did laundry, etc. etc. Now I find myself reading or listening to podcasts instead (my other new obsession!). I still watch plenty of Netflix with Joel, don't you worry, but for solo entertainment books and podcasts are where it's at for me right now. 

All that babble to say, since I'm reading more often I want to do more book reviews! I won't review everything I read, just ones that I really think you all should check out. Previously I've reviewed Big Magic: Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and a very short review of a book a friend wrote, All Things (A Reverend Alma Lee Mystery Book 1) by Amber Belldene.

Today I'm here to talk your ear off about David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcom Gladwell.

Before I started reading I was interested in this book for two reasons: 1. I love everything I'ver read by Malcom Gladwell (seriously, you should check out all of his books), and 2. The Biblical connection of the title intrigued me. The book was published in 2013 so I'm a little late to the party, but boy is it a party worth attending! 

Gladwell starts by looking deeper at the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17 in the Old Testament. Over the centuries this story has taken on, well, biblical proportions, and is known by many people around the world, even those who don't claim the Christian faith. People love stories of underdogs winning, and David is nothing if not the ultimate underdog - a young, small shepherd boy pitted against an experienced giant of a fighter.

In the opening of the book Gladwell shares that he wants to "explore two ideas: The first is that much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And second, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the source of great weakness."

He goes on to posit that being an underdog gives you advantages - different ways of looking at a situation, a willingness to break arbitrary rules, skills that might otherwise have gone undiscovered. 

Gladwell shares information about the story of David and Goliath that I did not learn even in seminary, and I can't wait for the day I get to preach on this text to a congregation, with the insights gleaned from this book. He goes on to explore other underdog situations in the history of the world, everything from personal stories of people with dyslexia becoming renowned in a particular field, to the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, to why the IRA was able to hold back and at times defeat the full weight and force of the British Army in Northern Ireland. 

As I've experienced with all of Gladwell's writing, the book is thoroughly engaging. He has a way of presenting history, facts, and philosophical ideas in a way that is both entertaining and thought provoking. I kept pausing in my reading so I could talk to Joel about what I was learning and discuss it with him. This would be a great book for a book club to read together, I promise you will find much you want to talk about! 

What I really love about this book is that it helps you look backwards and forwards.

By this I mean that the information Gladwell shares about historical events helps you learn more about them and see them with a new lens. Additionally, he helps you take what he has learned and apply it to your own life going forward, helping you to be better equipped mentally, emotionally, even spiritually to face challenges in the future. 

I recommend this book very highly, and if you do read it, please come let me know so we can talk about it! I've talked Joel's ear off already so I need some new conversation partners. 

XOXO, Bethany