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

Diversity Book Review
Reviewer: Liz Rubin, Director, Analytics Business Partner
Title: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants
Author: Malcolm Gladwell

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell shares societal and historical examples to support his view that being an underdog, which is usually viewed negatively, can actually be an advantage. This book challenges the reader to see situations through different and unexpected lenses.

Gladwell uses a variety of examples that apply the lessons from the original David and Goliath story. David was small in stature but instead of fearing Goliath’s larger size, David used his intelligence as a powerful asset to win in an unexpected way. The outcome reminds us that looks may be deceiving.

We learn of another underdog example when the author tells the story of how a brand new girls’ basketball team with an inexperienced coach continuously outwits the larger, more established teams by using the full court press, a less popular technique at the time. The unexpected approach forced errors and turnovers on the part of the more experienced team so the underdogs could score points more easily.

Gladwell draws on other examples from education concerning class size and the idea of a big fish in a little pond. Here he suggests that being a weak student at a prestigious university is not as compelling as being the top student at an average institution. Being in the perceived “better” situation may not turn out to be advantageous in the end.

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell cleverly dispels many notions that make up popular wisdom. The book really leaves the reader thinking about the freedom to try new things, to think differently and to open his or her mind to contrary views. There is beauty and art in seeing the advantages of being the “misfit” or the “underdog.” We will be stronger and better for that diversity of thought in the end.

This book review reflects the opinions of the reviewer and does not reflect the opinions of Horizon BCBSNJ.