Talking to strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
In July 2015, a young black woman named Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in rural Texas. Minutes later she was arrested and jailed. Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell. What went wrong? Talking to Strangers is all about what happens when we encounter people we don't know, why it often goes awry, and what it says about us.
How do we make sense of the unfamiliar? Why are we so bad at judging someone, reading a face, or detecting a lie? Why do we so often fail to 'get' other people?
Through a series of puzzles, encounters and misunderstandings, from little-known stories to infamous legal cases, Gladwell takes us on a journey through the unexpected. You will read about the spy who spent years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the man who saw through the fraudster Bernie Madoff, the suicide of the poet Sylvia Plath and the false conviction of Amanda Knox. You will discover that strangers are never simple.
No one shows us who we are like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he sets out to understand why we act the way we do, and how we all might know a little more about those we don't.
Mimi*** As I sat at the airport, head deep in a book, I suddenly heard, "Hi!" What? To my left stood a handsome man. "I just thought I should say hi since I see you're reading Talking to Strangers."
I too thought Malcolm Gladwell's new book was going to teach me how to literally talk with people I don't know, but as always he turns all my assumptions on their head with this book. If that's what the book was about, that stranger and I might be on a date by now.
If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let it be this: Strangers are not easy... We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues.
David*** Reading Gladwell means spending a lot of time saying to yourself, “Hey, wait a minute, what about [fill in thing you know a little something about here]?” For example, Gladwell has a long chapter about someone who managed to be a mole for Cuban intelligence in the US bureaucracy for many years. Having toiled in the vineyards of the sprawling federal bureaucracy myself, I felt that Gladwell missed some very important details about how people act there, and why. Without getting into too much spoiler-ish detail, I think Gladwell doesn't really understand the intensity with which fecal matters rains down on those who rock the boat here in the nation's capital, a factor that certainly influenced the events he narrates.
Overall, though, I was very happy to have been gifted this smart book and look forward to seeing if the world can, for once, defy my grouchy pessimism and actually allow a mere book to increase the amount of understanding in world and improve how we live
Megan*** This was my first Malcolm Gladwell, and now I have to go read everything else! In Talking to Strangers, Gladwell investigates what goes wrong when we interact with people we don’t know, using dramatic scenarios ripped from the headlines, history, psychology, and criminology. Gladwell begins and ends with the tragic death of Sandra Bland, and it’s impossible to ignore how urgently we need better strategies of understanding strangers.