Hacía años que no leía una crítica tan destructiva en The Economist. Incluso la reseña de Antifragile era bastante benévola. El título y el subtítulo del artículo tienen bastante mala leche.La frase final es, simplemente, demoledora.
Winning is better than losing, and other words of counterintuitive wisdom
MALCOLM GLADWELL, a staff writer for the New Yorker, has built a thriving career as a populariser of social-science research. His first book explored how trends spread; his second, the effectiveness of snap judgments; and his third, the factors that make people successful. His newest book, “David and Goliath”, is about the benefits of adversity and the hidden hazards of power. A superbly fluid writer, Mr Gladwell once again traffics in anecdote and covers a lot of ground.
He begins with the story of Goliath, a Philistine warrior who believed himself invincible; he was defeated by a boy shepherd who knew how to fire a stone from a sling. Mr Gladwell discusses a dyslexic man from rural Illinois named David Boies, who learned to compensate for his poor reading abilities by listening attentively and thinking quickly—good skills for a trial lawyer. Today Mr Boies is among the most successful litigators in America. Vivek Ranadivé, a Mumbai-born software engineer, had never played basketball before, yet he coached his daughter’s team to the national championships. To make up for their middling passing and shooting, he pushed them to play faster and more aggressively than their rivals.
These and other stories are entertainingly told. But with each passing chapter the book grows less organised, and Mr Gladwell’s lessons increasingly vague or thuddingly obvious. One chapter melds stories of Wyatt Walker, a titan of the American civil-rights movement, and Br’er Rabbit, a trickster-hero of African-American mythology, to impart the moral that “You got to use what you got.” Another bounces between Belfast in 1969 and a rough section of Brooklyn today to show that brute force breeds resentment, and that military superiority does not guarantee victory—something that any American who has picked up a newspaper since 2003 knows all too well. A third crosscuts dizzyingly between wartime London and the story of Emil Freireich, a doctor who suffered a Dickensianly miserable childhood and went on to a brilliant career, to show, one supposes, that triumphing over adversity is better than succumbing to it.
Mr Gladwell’s earlier books, particularly “The Tipping Point”, his first, were genuinely thought-provoking. This one is about as insightful as a fortune cookie. Read something else.
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