Friday, December 27, 2013


Malcolm Gladwell
Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 978-0-316-20436-21
Sociology / Motivational
305 pages
$29.00 hardcover with jacket

I’ve never read a book by Malcolm Gladwell.  This is my first.  And as a pastor, I have to confess that I requested the book for review under the misguided notion that I was going to get a deeper insight into the story of David and Goliath.  Some new information that I might have been missing.  I thought it was a book on the Bible.

However, having agreed to review it (and it really is an interesting jacket cover, with a hole coming out of the paper showing where a stone had been hurled through it) I gave it a go.  And it took awhile to put my finger on the source of my disappointment.

Then it came to me.  This book has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible.  The very first “illustration,” and the namesake of the book, is an attempt at demythologizing of the story of David and Goliath.  Not that I consider the historical account of David and Goliath a myth.  But Gladwell obviously feels that the readers of Scripture have been misunderstanding the whole story from the get go.

Delving into the historical intricacies of Middle Eastern battle tactics, and drawing some rather unique conclusions as to the medical condition of Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell would have us believe that David was the absolutely best individual to go up against Goliath.  That courage, and faith in the God of Israel had nothing to do with the outcome.

As far as the author is concerned, our issues (like that of Goliath, apparently) are rooted in the whole idea of perspective.  We are looking at things in our lives in a wrong manner, and responding to those things in our lives based upon our wrong perspective.  If we would only recognize that black is white, and white is purple . . . that good is bad, and bad is better . . . we would be able to come to a more correct perspective, and make better decisions, and we would all be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.

Coming back to the story of David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell would probably tell me that my Sunday School teachers had it wrong all along.  Thank you for the disillusionment, Mr. Gladwell.  But, I think I’ll stick to the Bible.  If it were not such a mighty demonstration of the power of God acting on behalf of his chosen people, the story of David and Goliath would never have made it into print.  And your book would have to find another jumping off point.

2 stars for a smart looking, albeit extremely dangerous book