Outliers was written by Malcolm Gladwell and published in 2008. Gladwell wrote the book to investigate the factors that lead to high levels of success; as Gladwell believes that singular and unusual things “always [make] the best stories,” his project in Outliers is somewhat unsurprising. This book followed his two major “popular economics” and “popular psychology” bestsellers, The Tipping Point and Blink, respectively. However, Outliers is unique among Gladwell’s works because of its autobiographical content: after all, he ends the book by describing it as an apology for his success.
Gladwell starts out by explaining why most Canadian hockey players were born early in the calendar year. The book then moves on to looking into the 10,000-Hour Rule, which states that 10,000 hours of practice will lead to mastery and success; the Beatles and Bill Gates are given as prominent examples. Gladwell then compares two people of similarly high innate intelligence, Christopher Langan and Robert Oppenheimer, and explains how Oppenheimer’s wealth and social experiences made him more likable and employable. Outliers ends with an evaluation of factors such as national origin and education, focusing on (among other topics) the KIPP program in inner-city schools and Gladwell's own family genealogy.
Outliers spent eleven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and generally was praised by critics as personal, relevant, and easy to understand, though some believed that it oversimplified the complexities of social phenomena.