Bryan Appleyard

Playing the Advantage

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 352pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

Before considering the content of a Malcolm Gladwell book, it is first necessary to consider it as a marketing exercise and a genre. My proof copy comes with a cover proclaiming ‘The new Malcolm Gladwell is here’ and, inside, there is an advert for ‘The David and Goliath Tour’, a series of live shows taking place in London, Liverpool and Dublin. Furthermore, a significant number of the hundreds of books I am sent annually are implicitly – and sometimes explicitly – written in imitation of Gladwell. This is understandable. David and Goliath is his fifth book; the previous four have sold millions and so will this one. Death and taxes have been joined by huge Gladwell sales as the only certainties in life. 

At once I should say that I, like every other journalist, am jealous. Gladwell has found a way of making millions out of journalism without the awful burden and uncertainty of owning a newspaper. (Actually, on reflection, Gladwell may have found the

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