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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review - What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell - AUDIO

Title: What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures Audio CD

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Audio

Buy What the Dog Saw Here: And Other Adventures!

Rating: NEED to Read

Reviewed by: MarthaE

Over the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has become the most gifted and influential journalist in America. In The New Yorker, his writings are such must-reads that the magazine charges advertisers significantly more money for ads that run within his articles. With his #1 bestsellers, The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers, he has reached millions of readers. And now the very best and most famous of his New Yorker pieces are collected in a brilliant and provocative anthology. Among the pieces: his investigation into why there are so many different kinds of mustard but only one kind of ketchup; a surprising assessment of what makes for a safer automobile; a look at how we hire when we can't tell who's right for the job; an examination of machine built to predict hit movies; the reasons why homelessness might be easier to solve than manage; his famous profile of inventor and entrepreneur Ron Popeil; a look at why employers love personality tests; a dissection of Ivy League admissions and who gets in; the saga of the quest to invent the perfect cookie; and a look at hair dye and the hidden history of postwar America.

For the millions of Malcolm Gladwell fans, this anthology is like a greatest hits compilation-a mix tape from America's alpha mind.

The product description caught my attention but it really failed to make me realize how interesting this was going to be! As I worked on this review I realized I would have a hard time, too, trying to convey how very interesting the book is!

As the author states in the Audio introduction, this book is: “to engage you; to make you think; to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head….” It accomplished that goal for me!

The book is a series of clustered stories – adventures as Gladwell calls them. Although each story stands on its own there is a thread idea that ties them together and sometimes, as I was listening, I would think, “Where is he going with this?” Then suddenly it would tie back - in an “ah ha!” moment!

I think the audio book may have made this easier to “read” by listening on a long drive in the car. However, having the book would allow you to go back and really mull over the details and examples presented.

To help you understand the book I will try to explain a bit about the title “What the Dog Saw”. In that section Gladwell tells of a man, Cesar Millan, who trains dogs --- along the lines of The Horse Whisperer. Even as a young man Cesar apparently had an affinity for dealing with dogs. He studied their behaviors and reactions. So when he goes into a home to access a troubled, nasty tempered dog, he approaches the situation from the dog’s perspective instead of the owners. He explains to the owners what the dog is seeing in their movements and body language and how the dog is reacting to that! The idea being that you may have to look at a situation from another “person’s” (or being’s) perspective to understand that person or to find a solution!

Gladwell applies this same technique to the problems of helping the homeless. He describes how so much money is wasted because governmental agencies (with support of society) tend to treat the symptoms and not the cause.

The book covers many other topics as well… all looking from a perspective that makes you think! In each story Gladwell shows the person or object from different perspectives that make you understand the person or issue better. I think this is really a NEED to read as it gets you to think outside yourself and to hopefully use the “different perspective technique” in future circumstances! And it turned out to be a fun listen!

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