Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

60%

59 Critic Reviews

The book reads more like a series of individual studies than as the cohesive "story of success" it's supposed to be.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

There is a story that is usually told about extremely successful people, a story that focuses on intelligence and ambition. Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them-at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date. And in revealing that hidden logic, Gladwell presents a fascinating and provocative blueprint for making the most of human potential.

In The Tipping Point Gladwell changed the way we understand the world. In Blink he changed the way we think about thinking. In OUTLIERS he transforms the way we understand success.
 

About Malcolm Gladwell

See more books from this Author
Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He was formerly a business and science reporter at the Washington Post.
 
Published October 29, 2008 by Little, Brown and Company. 317 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy, Travel. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon7
Peak Rank on Aug 21 2011
icon158
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
4
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Outliers
All: 59 | Positive: 31 | Negative: 28

Kirkus

Below average
Sep 01 2008

At times it seems an exercise in repackaged carpe diem, especially from a mind as attuned as Gladwell’s.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by David Leonhardt on Nov 28 2008

. . .leaves you mulling over its inventive theories for days afterward. It also, unfortunately, avoids grappling in a few instances with research that casts doubt on those theories.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Nov 17 2008

. . .glib, poorly reasoned and thoroughly unconvincing.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by PD Smith on Jun 19 2009

Of course, social historians have long understood that the key to explaining the significance of people and events is to place them in context. But in an age that idolises success and celebrity, Gladwell's compelling popularisation is timely and even important.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Derek Draper on Dec 05 2008

Unlike Tipping Point and Blink, where Gladwell's weaving of facts and argument led to a seemingly new revelation, Outliers ends up being rather less than the sum of its parts. I guess that inadvertently tells us something else about success. Even outliers like Gladwell can sometimes manage only to be ordinary.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jason Cowley on Nov 22 2008

The book would have been more interesting if he'd roamed wider and travelled more, if it had been more internationalist in ambition and outlook...However, it's still fun to follow Gladwell on his meandering intellectual journeys, even if the conclusions he arrives at here are so obviously self-evident as to be banal.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by PD Smith on Jun 19 2009

. . .in an age that idolises success and celebrity, Gladwell's compelling popularisation is timely and even important.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Derek Draper on Dec 05 2008

As the book unfolds there is a hunger for something deeper and more profound that never turns up.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Jason Cowley on Nov 22 2008

The trouble with the book is that Gladwell is ultimately engaged in a long argument with nobody but himself.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Leslie Chang

Real life is seldom as neat as it appears in a Malcolm Gladwell book.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Blog Critics

Below average
Reviewed by Clarence Yu on Nov 21 2008

Gladwell uses a staggering amount of research and statistics, albeit disjointed, to prove his points, but in the end, falls short of trying to weave all his chapters together into one cohesive book. In this sense, the material seems like trivia, which makes it a good read, though it is really nothing to be taken too seriously...

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Justin McHenry on Nov 18 2008

Despite the objections that can be raised, Outliers is thoroughly compelling in the same vein as The Tipping Point and Blink. While Gladwell says this is not a self-help book, I dare you to read it without thinking about where you could've, should've, or still can spend your 10,000 hours.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Blog Critics

WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by David Shaywitz on Nov 15 2008

. . .for all the quibbles that may attend the individual stories that Mr. Gladwell has assembled -- the thrust of his argument is right on target.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from WSJ online

Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Max Ross on Nov 30 2008

The book reads more like a series of individual studies than as the cohesive "story of success" it's supposed to be.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg on Jan 24 2011

. . .a provocative, consistently engaging, occasionally amusing work that has the potential to change the way we view the world. . .

Read Full Review of Outliers

Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Joanne McNeil on Nov 23 2008

Instead of focusing on the idea of “10,000 hours” as an essential path to excellence, he dampens this theory with determinist conclusions about the role of chance.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Washington Times

AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Donna Bowman on Nov 19 2008

It takes a village to raise a genius, Gladwell concludes, and if we want those geniuses to help solve our problems, we need to study the blueprints of those villages.

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from AV Club

Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Gregory Kirschling on Nov 12 2008

. . .Gladwell always tells stories to make his points, and every single one of them in Outliers is a plateful of brain food that tastes like salty peanuts.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Howard Gardner on Nov 23 2008

At times, in his laudable effort to critique biological arguments, especially the idea that talent is dispensed by the luck of the genetic draw, Gladwell goes too far.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Lesley McDowell on Jul 05 2009

Marxist theory and feminist theory got there a long time ago, so there's not much new here, although it is possibly presented in a more palatable form for some.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Nov 21 2008

. . .it turns out that this bitter, unAmerican pill comes deftly spun in sugar.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Robert Colvile on Dec 10 2008

. . .that's the secret of Outliers: it isn't about outliers at all. It's about everyone.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Ed Smith on Dec 08 2008

Some of Gladwell's ideas also border on internal inconsistency.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Nov 17 2008

Overall, it’s another winner from this agile social observer.

Read Full Review of Outliers

San Francisco Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by Jonah Raskin on Nov 16 2008

At times, his conclusions don't seem to be warranted by the facts...Still, "Outliers" is unabashedly inspiring. Education is at its vital heart; teachers and parents ought to put it on Christmas lists and bring it to PTA meetings.

Read Full Review of Outliers

San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonah Raskin on Nov 16 2008

With relentless curiosity and a keen fascination with significant details, he focuses on trends and illuminates the larger lessons he wants everyone to learn. 

Read Full Review of Outliers

Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue

Luckily for him, Gladwell isn’t writing for intelligent readers. . .

Read Full Review of Outliers

Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Peter Coclanis

. . .how egregiously incomplete, insubstantial, and unconvincing Gladwell’s explanation of success actually is.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Below average
Reviewed by Stefan Beck on Nov 20 2008

Few would argue with this, or be surprised by it, but many will be enchanted by the curious assortment of examples he uses to bolster it. Whether they’ll be put off by his logical contradictions and obfuscations is another matter.

Read Full Review of Outliers

About.com

Good
Reviewed by Mark Flanagan on Oct 27 2016

Malcolm Gladwell is a gifted story-teller, and his ability to present his ideas within compelling narrative form is half of what makes his work so engaging and popular. The other half of course is his ability to ask questions, synthesize ideas, and make connections where others fail to see them...

Read Full Review of Outliers

PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by NAV PUREWAL on Feb 12 2009

Longtime Gladwell admirers will surely love it, while those turned off by some of the more questionable assertions in Blink would do well to give him another chance. By no small measure, this is his most important book.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Forbes

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Forbes

Gladwell combines a wonderful writing style with an incurably iconoclastic curiosity. . .

Read Full Review of Outliers | See more reviews from Forbes

Boston.com

Above average
Reviewed by Nancy Harris on Oct 06 2011

His goal is to demystify success for his readers. However, Gladwell also attempts to raise our consciousness.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Salon

Below average
Reviewed by Louis Bayard on Nov 17 2008

The problem with having your theory in hand from the beginning is that you have to slough off whatever data don’t fit.

Read Full Review of Outliers

NY Daily News

Below average
Reviewed by DAVID HINCKLEY on Nov 15 2008

That's not a novel notion, either. But the idea that our most successful people only needed the luck with which they were born is one that's always worth smacking down.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Daily Kos

Good
Reviewed by J V Calin on Sep 17 2010

I definitely recommend reading the whole book, which I have only scratched the surface of. I would also like to recommend a couple of talks Gladwell gives discussing his book.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Business Week

Above average
on Nov 20 2008

Outliers can be repetitive. Gladwell also veers off track at times...He does pull his stories and studies into an overarching narrative, however: that it is not the best and the brightest who succeed but those who are given opportunities and have the presence of mind to seize them.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Business Week

Excellent
Nov 20 2008

. . .even if one can't help wondering what contradictory evidence Gladwell may have left out, Outliers is thought-provoking.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Seattle Times

Below average
Reviewed by MaryAnn Gwinn on Nov 13 2008

. . .Gladwell never confronts the fact that success is defined differently in different cultures;

Read Full Review of Outliers

Psych Central

Below average
Reviewed by John M. Grohol on Oct 27 2016

...Gladwell adds little to these observations other than stories that nicely highlight his points. There’s little critical thinking here, or even answers to obvious followup questions...

Read Full Review of Outliers

Commentary

Above average
Reviewed by Brian C. Anderson on Feb 01 2009

Ultimately, Outliers, in its call for society to act more aggressively in equalizing opportunity and in its shrunken view of human freedom, seems the perfect expression of its own historical moment of newly ascendant Left-liberalism in Obama’s Washington.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Time Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Bill Wadman on Nov 13 2008

Outliers is a more personal book than its predecessors are.

Read Full Review of Outliers

http://www.northcoastjournal.com

Good
Reviewed by ANTHONY CORREALE on Oct 28 2016

He riffles through a broad range of subjects with an ease that makes Outliers, even at its most nuanced, an exciting, propulsive read.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Boston Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Claude Fischer

He wraps compelling stories and engaging characters around the kernel of research, delivering the academic material so entertainingly that readers may not even notice they have been schooled.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by KatelynMcNeese on Oct 28 2016

...I thoroughly enjoyed your writing and I appreciate the way that you were able to validate all of your opinions and thoughts through facts.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by readerwriter1 on Oct 28 2016

The nuggets of information hidden within the stark white cover of Outliers have the power to alter the means by which the path to success is viewed.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Teen Ink

Below average
Reviewed by waeland on Oct 28 2016

Make no mistake, Outliers is a good book. Gladwell is a great author who is able to make a nonfiction book interesting, even if you dislike nonfiction. However, parts of it fail to live up to the potential of the better chapters.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Rhapsody in Books

Below average
on Jan 20 2009

The case studies supplied by Gladwell are not only cherry-picked to support his thesis, but the circumstances of each case study are also put through Gladwell’s conceptual sieve...

Read Full Review of Outliers

Book Review Circle

Excellent
Reviewed by Yasmin Muhammad Elias on Oct 28 2016

The book is very interesting and would suggest all the readers to buy it as it is a book worth keeping in your home library. If the readers want a deep impact and want to change your lifestyle to be greatly successful, then this book is a must read.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Reading for Sanity

Excellent
Reviewed by Kari on Sep 09 2010

I think everyone should read this book. It puts success into perspective. It gives a face to the true requirements for achievement.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Quill & Quire

Below average
on Oct 28 2016

...after plowing through the dramatic anecdotes and gee-whiz factoids, adult readers are left to contend with the desolating assertion that the quality of their lives was determined decades ago...

Read Full Review of Outliers

Challies

Good
Reviewed by Tim Challies on Dec 02 2008

I greatly enjoyed Outliers and have no trouble recommending it alongside Gladwell’s other titles. It is good for us, I think, to examine success and to understand that things are not always as they seem on the surface.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Info Barrel

Above average
Reviewed by PensiveScholar on Sep 30 2014

If you have some spare time, Outliers is a fun, interesting book that raises questions and provides explanations. Just don’t expect all the answers to be completely academic in nature.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Marginal Revolution

Below average
Reviewed by Tyler Cowen on Nov 19 2008

Gladwell descends into the swamp of contingency but he is unwilling to really live in it and take it seriously or, alternatively, to find a way out.

Read Full Review of Outliers

The Well-Read Man

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Patrick on Jun 25 2014

In the book, the forces that birth outliers are external rather than innate. It was this emphasis that I found lacking...Despite this oversight, the book is still a great read.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Flight Into Fantasy

Good
Reviewed by Shannon on Oct 21 2013

Gladwell’s writing is easy to read, with chapters divided into short sections, facilitating starting and stopping whenever I had a few minutes to read.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Nanxi Liu

Good
Reviewed by nanxiliu on Jan 01 2012

I recommend Outliers particularly for parents or soon-to-be parents. It describes the combination of opportunities, timing, hard work, and background that forms an extraordinarily successful person, an outlier.

Read Full Review of Outliers

http://www.fastcompany.com

Above average
Reviewed by Danielle Sacks on Nov 17 2008

In typical Gladwellian form, he weaves together studies, historical and sociological data, quirky factoids, and human profiles to alter how we think about why the few uber-successful have achieved their meteoric status, while even those with the highest IQ will never.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Cnet

Above average
Reviewed by Matt Asay on Nov 16 2008

Gladwell's new book, Outliers, is no different, but I find it more interesting, perhaps in part because it helps to explain a complex subject in pithy prose.

Read Full Review of Outliers

Reader Rating for Outliers
81%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 6299 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

User Review

Timothy 24 Jun 2013

Rated the book as 2.5 out of 5

Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 5 Oct 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Morgan Holland

Morgan Holland 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Jessica Shulist

Jessica Shulist 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Giwan

Giwan 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list