June 6, 2014 5:27 pm

‘David and Goliath’, by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell, Penguin, RRP£8.99, 320 pages

David and Goliath is an ill-assorted collection of anecdotes that demonstrates various things we already know. It tells us that having nothing to lose can make you bolder. That if you deploy power indiscriminately, it may backfire. And that losing a parent early on can give you a leg up if you plan on becoming a genius.

Yet it is Malcolm Gladwell’s most enjoyable book so far; a feel-good extravaganza, nourishing both heart and mind. Each of its stories – set in Northern Ireland, Alabama, California, Vichy France and ancient Palestine – has an ending that is both happy and surprising.

What ostensibly unites the stories are the twin ideas that an advantage can sometimes be a disadvantage and that a disadvantage can sometimes be an advantage. Yet there is something else that links them. These stories tell you something trite and profound and cheering: that good beats bad – just when you least expect it.

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