I just polished this book off last week. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this one might be the best.
Wherever you land on the debate, Malcolm Gladwell’s hair clearly wins..
I will admit that I don’t like Gladwell’s telling of the David and Goliath story itself. I think he misses the point of the biblical story and uses some questionable interpretative techniques to arrive at his conclusions. However, the rest of the book is fantastic. Why? Because it is utterly compelling and moving. All I can say is that I listened to it while mowing my lawn and I was not crying. It was the dust. It’s terribly dusty this time of year.
The truth is that Gladwell is a marvelous storyteller. At several points I found myself mowing halfway into my neighbor’s yard because I was so captivated by Gladwell’s stories. In the audio book, Gladwell reads the story himself which magnifies the experience. Had the book not finished, I may have mowed every yard on my street just to keep listening.
The thing I love about this book is it’s central message. Gladwell doesn’t use this language but it’s essentially about redemption. Any bad experience or handicap can be redeemed. Gladwell writes about parental loss, dyslexia, persecution, and systemic racism. In each of these situations, through adaptation, perseverance and forgiveness, people or cultures become stronger, not in spite of their pain and struggle but because of them. The cure for lukemia, the will to oppose the Nazi’s, the fortitude to battle for civil rights and the strength to forgive were all birthed out of tremendous pain and loss.
This is a story that we need. Life is relentlessly painful, full of loss and disappointment. We either rebuild out of the ashes as stronger and better people or we fold.
Redemption is also the central message of the Gospel, which is perhaps why I loved David and Goliath so much. Jesus can redeem and restore any life no matter how dysfunctional and broken.
It seems that the process of writing about persecuted faith communities, forgiveness and redemption deeply affected Gladwell and his own faith journey. According to him, the journey brought about a return to faith in his own life.
My recommendation would be to go out and by this book. If you are a church person, like myself, you will likely get annoyed in the early pages because of Gladwell’s spin on the David and Goliath story. Keep reading. I think you will love it and at the very least you will be inspired.