Outliers Background

Outliers Background

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, and as Gladwell believes that singular things and unusual things “always [make] the best stories,” his focus on anomalies and rarely achieved cases makes his writing of Outliers unsurprising. Its publication comes after his two major “popular economics” and “popular psychology” bestsellers, The Tipping Point and Blink. However, Outliers is unique among Gladwell’s works because of its autobiographical content and possibly nature. He ends the book by describing it as an “extended apology for [his] success.”

Gladwell starts out the book by looking into why most Canadian hockey players are born early in the year. The book then moves to looking into the 10,000 Hour Rule, which states that 10,000 hours of practice will lead to mastery and success, and the Beatles, Bill Gates, and the author himself are given as examples. Gladwell then compares two people of equal 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 education, first focusing on the KIPP program in inner-city schools and then on his own family’s educational 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, but some believed that it oversimplified the complexities of social phenomena.

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