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NaaahTen Minutes to RelaxThank You for Being Such a PainThe 10 Best Anxiety BustersThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe 7 Secrets of the ProlificThe Anger WorkbookThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Art of Becoming HumanThe Art of Exceptional LivingThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Breakout PrincipleThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Chronic Pain SolutionThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Consolations of PhilosophyThe Core Question: Who Am I?The Crowdsourced Performance ReviewThe Emotional Eater's Repair ManualThe Emotional RevolutionThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential KamasutraThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Game of TruthThe Gift of FearThe Gift of ShynessThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Happy Hook-UpThe Healing JourneyThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Healing Power of PetsThe Identity CodeThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Intuitive WriterThe Irritable Male SyndromeThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever NeedThe Light of DiscoveryThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Yoga BookThe Magic of Thinking BigThe Making of Dr. PhilThe Male Stress Survival GuideThe Money WorkbookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Self-EsteemThe New Cancer SurvivorsThe New Rational TherapyThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe OCD WorkbookThe Passion PlanThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe Places That Scare YouThe Pocket Life CoachThe Porn TrapThe Power of FocusThe Power of Full EngagementThe Power of Negative ThinkingThe Power of PlayThe Power of Self-CoachingThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Secret of LifeThe Secret Strength of DepressionThe Self ImprovedThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Self-Help SourcebookThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Stress CureThe Stress Less WorkbookThe Stress Owner's ManualThe Stress Reduction Workbook for TeensThe SuperStress SolutionThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Therapy for the SaneThe Truth About Chronic PainThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Van Gogh BluesThe Way of StretchingThe Way of the JournalThe Way of TransitionThe Weblog HandbookThe Why CaféThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every ProblemThings Might Go Terribly, Horribly WrongThink Confident, Be ConfidentThink NakedThink SmartThinking for a ChangeThis Is HowTotal PilatesTrain Your Brain to Get HappyTrain Your Brain to Get RichTransformation Trauma in the Lives of ChildrenUltimate SexUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUndoing DepressionUnhappy TeenagersUnlock the Genius WithinUntangling the WebVirtual AddictionWaking Up to What You DoWay to Be!What We Say MattersWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Holding You Back? When a Family Member Has DementiaWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen in Doubt, Make BeliefWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhen Things Fall ApartWhen Words Are Not EnoughWhen Your Body Gets the BluesWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWherever You Go, There You AreWhy Can't I Change?Why Is It Always About You?Why Smart Executives FailWorried All the TimeWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting as a Sacred PathWriting in FlowWriting to HealYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!Yoga 4 TeensYoga as MedicineYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for the Young at HeartYoga on DemandYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYou Are Not AloneYou Are Not Your IllnessYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Speaks Your MindYour Brain on FoodYour Child, Bully or Victim?Zen Sex
A disclaimer: Malcolm Gladwell is a
staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and I am a big fan of his
articles. In the 6,000-10,000 word essays typical for that publication,
Gladwell tackles an extraordinarily wide variety of topics and, with deft and
fast-moving prose, explicates some small corner of the social universe in which
human beings conduct their business. Gladwell often examines aspects of individual
and group psychology that influence the ways in which we perceive each other
and our world. A distinctive feature of a Gladwell article is that the author
tends to draw large lessons from small details. In one memorable article about
L'Oreal cosmetics, Gladwell concluded with rather philosophical musings on the
nature of beauty and society's obsession with youth.
Gladwell's first book, The
Tipping Point, became something of a cocktail-party sensation for what The
New Yorker fondly deems "the chattering classes." That book focused
on the means by which commercial and social information are transmitted and
disseminated across the nation and around the world. Ironically, the book
itself became something of a pop culture phenomenon when the hip-hop group Roots
borrowed the title for their highly-acclaimed multi-platinum album.
Thus, it was with great excitement
that I picked up a copy of Gladwell's second book, Blink¸ just released
in hardback in January. The book is subtitled "The Power of Thinking
Without Thinking," and its stated purpose is to explore the split-second
decision-making that distinguishes experts and connoisseurs from amateurs and
novices. Sometimes, instantaneous decisions come to us as a result of years of
preparation or study. At other times, these decisions occur because of
apparently irrelevant information--for example, when a consumer chooses an
alcoholic beverage on the basis of the label's design rather than the actual
taste of the product. Gladwell seeks to understand the ways that instantaneous
decisions can be manipulated to shape purchasing decisions, among other
choices. Along the way, Gladwell explores what it means to be considered an
expert in widely divergent fields, ranging from gastronomy to hip-hop music to
police procedure to military strategy and so on.
Articles in The New Yorker
are often perceived as too wordy and dense for casual reading. By contrast, Blink
is written in a highly accessible, somewhat repetitive, and very engaging style--it
is anti-dense by design. Gladwell makes frequent and highly palatable
allusions to previous chapters. Along the way, Gladwell tosses in a healthy
dose of anecdotes, asides, and factoids that do not advance the central ideas
but nevertheless engage the reader.
In sum, then, Blink delivers
exactly what fans of Malcolm Gladwell are looking for--a wide-ranging and
thought-provoking meditation on the nature and implications of snap judgments.
To Gladwell's credit, the book does not read like an anthology of loosely-related
magazine articles. Rather, the author adapts to the book-length format with
ease, while maintaining the fast-paced journalistic style that has made him a
star journalist. Blink is recommended wholeheartedly.
© 2005 Michael
Brodsky is a psychiatrist in training in Los
Angeles, California, and an avid reader.
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