The first chapter deals in detail with military strategy, history and weaponry, in order to get into the main point of assessing one’s advantages over that which we need to “conquer.” Each chapter of the book explores how “underdogs” (AKA the disadvantaged) overcome great odds to achieve great personal and professional success.
Weaknesses or “handicaps” such as dyslexia, an abusive childhood, bullying, crime and poverty are examined by Gladwell using real-life stories. These stories demonstrate how recovery, justice, success and even wealth can result from perseverance and careful attention to the nuances of situations that require new methods and strategies.
The reader learns how David Boies overcame dyslexia and a reading disability to become one of the country’s best trial lawyers; we learn how Irish Catholics defied overwhelming British force by using baby buggies to undermine their strategy. Gladwell tells us about the courage of Londoners during the Nazi Blitzkrieg and how the anticipated panic turned Londoners into complacent and enduring citizens.
Gladwell shows how intimidation, fear and old ways of doing things can be counterproductive to bringing down large and often decrepit ‘giants.’ He shows how medical progress and finding a cure for childhood leukemia was a battle against old assumptions and practices. Finally, he warns against countering ‘giants’ by using their mode of operation and standards.
As in his previous books, Malcolm Gladwell brings good value to the reader by giving real-world examples on why it is advantageous to reflect on the methods others use to overcome great odds to achieve success and to help to make our world a better place.
I recommend this book to people in business as well as anyone threatened by overbearing circumstances. Gladwell’s stories build conceptual overviews that empower our analytical and critical thinking skills – the foundation for defeating ‘giants.’ His examples make for easy reading, yet are profound in the powerful lessons we learn.