Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
33
3
1
A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Pres
Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers , offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers -- and why they often go wrong.
How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn't true?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers , you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed--scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There's even a theme song - Janelle Monae's "Hell You Talmbout."
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, ©2019.
ISBN: 9780316478526
Characteristics: xii, 386 pages :,illustrations, portraits ;,22 cm.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
b
bceccoli
May 12, 2020

In addition to the insightful perceptions of Malcolm Gladwell regarding the tools and strategies we use to evaluate the strangers we meet this book has interesting ties to Kansas City. He reviews multiple case studies about Kansas City’s efforts to reduce crime. Starting in the 1970’s Kansas City tried to improve the way police deployed their forces to reduce crime by employing a criminologist. It was the first of several attempts that ultimately became known as the “Kansas City Model”. Gladwell takes a critical look at how our attempts to learn why people act as they do and why anticipating their behavior is so fraught with problems.

Gladwell’s well researched investigations reviews how Cuba was able to plant spies within our intelligence agencies, why Neville Chamberlain placed his trust in Hitler and how Bernard Madoff was able to fraudulently gain the trust of many seemingly sophisticated investors. Gladwell illustrates why talking with strangers is more complex than we ever knew and our how assumptions can lead us down paths that can have devastating consequences.

w
writermala
Mar 20, 2020

Malcolm Gladwell has written a book about various scenarios where understanding strangers has come to the fore. Each of these topics is interesting and we learn what we should know about the people we don't know. As Lionel Beehner says Gladwell could probably make a pencil sharpener interesting, if he were given an assignment to write about it. He is a wonderful reporter and writes well about the most mundane topics.

p
philinehillas
Mar 08, 2020

Excellent book with several key points well supported by research and by actual events. Unique way of viewing our assumptions and how they can lead us to disastrous conclusions. Very readable. It has expanded and informed my previous way of looking at people and events in the world. Highly recommend it.

b
bensalk
Mar 08, 2020

Very interesting read! This was my first Gladwell book, and I am sure it won't be my last. This book takes a deep dive into the intricacies of human psychology, particularly around deception. Although this is the main focus, the book also touches on other seemingly unrelated topics which are nonetheless eventually integrated with the main theme of the book. Gladwell is quite talented! As you'll find, and as I have alluded to, he has a profound capacity to deeply explore a subject while maintaining a wide lens though which to do so. The book elucidates many very interesting stories, from the interactions of Cortes and Montezuma to the finds of an anthropologist in Bolivia. This book is a great read for just about anyone, but particularly for those who like variation in their reads. Enjoy!

VaughanPLTiziana Feb 24, 2020

A good read with some interesting insights. Malcolm Gladwell investigates what can go wrong when we interact with people we don't know. He uses many real scenarios from throughout history. I enjoyed the psychology aspect of this book and the many studies he discusses.

s
sgill3
Feb 20, 2020

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors!

JCLHollyB Feb 20, 2020

In this approachable, Science-based read author Malcolm Gladwell questions the capacity people have to actually assess another person's character, competency, emotions, and even guilt of a crime. He cites recent high attention cases, including both the Sandra Bland and Brock Turner cases, working to inspire the reader to question not only their immediate perceptions, but, what our perceptions are based on, and why we have them.

It was a heady, captivating read that most literally sent me into a bigger, better paradigm of thinking. I recommend this book to anyone excited to question reality as they see it. A must read!

p
patcarstensen
Feb 12, 2020

There are about 3 big ideas in 345 pages, and I wish he had gotten to conclusions better than "we don't do a very good job at some things, but doing a good job would be result in a world worse than what we have." But it is a fun book.

e
Einer2
Jan 29, 2020

As always Malcolm gives us an alternate way of looking at the world and the people and situations around us in a different way. It's unfortunate that network news doesn't use him to explain some of the ways he sees and interprets things.

b
Bududo
Jan 27, 2020

The subject is an important topic that the author builds up to understand various aspects of where things go awry. Mr. Gladwell structures and presents each illustrative story in a way that we follow his conclusion. For the most part this works well. However, there are some cases where the author has not really established that his narrative is the only plausible one. Nevertheless, he makes a cogent case that communicating with strangers can be very fraught with misconceptions and misdirection. I have personally experienced this frustration so much of what he says resonates. The section on KSM, although fascinating, is a non-essential part of the primary narrative and appears to be a pad.

The Amanda Knox discussion was very interesting and seems to resolve what has bothered me about the case.

All in all, I recommend this book.

View All Comments

Quotes

Add a Quote
VaughanPLTiziana Feb 24, 2020

"We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues. We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course. We are nuanced and complex and enigmatic. But the stranger is easy. If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let it be this: Strangers are not easy."

"We have a default to truth: our operating assumption is that the people we are dealing with are honest."

"Default to truth becomes an issue when we are forced to choose between two alternatives, one of which is likely and the other of which is impossible to imagine."

"You believe someone not because you have no doubts about them. Belief is not the absence of doubt. You believe someone because you don’t have enough doubts about them."

"When we confront a stranger, we have to substitute an idea—a stereotype—for direct experience. And that stereotype is wrong all too often."

j
JENNIFERES
Feb 08, 2020

The first set of mistakes we make with strangers - the default to truth and the illusion of transparency - has to do with our inability to make sense of the stranger as an individual. But on top of those errors we add another, which pushes our problem with strangers into crisis. We do not understand the importance of the context in which the stranger is operating.

j
JENNIFERES
Feb 08, 2020

Sometimes the best conversations between strangers allow the stranger to remain a stranger. (p. XII)

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
d
Docenos
Feb 03, 2020

Docenos thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at Library

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top