I’ve been meaning to read Malcolm’s book for the longest time and now I finally got to read one of his recent book. Talking to Strangers was kindly sent to me by Penguin Random House for an honest review. Thank you Penguin.
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.
Talking to strangers is written in a format of people interacting with strangers. In these cases we get to see the impact of not understanding strangers and how we normally act towards people we don’t know. I loved this writing style because it allows you to reflect on how you’d have reacted in that particular situation. Malcolm talks a lot about how human minds operate in a default setup until something is trigger and we started questioning things. And how this default set up should not be applied to all situations because it won’t fit.
Some of the cases presented in this book are heartbreaking and some lost their lives just because we failed to deal with strangers and Malcolm continues to point out why we are so bad at the act of translation. The use of cases was perfect for the entire story-line and it commanded attention from the beginning. It makes the point come across easily. Even though these are well known cases you might have heard about, but Malcolm’s analysis was amazing.
This book was just a learning curve for me, the things I sometimes do without fully understanding the impact it might have on the people or strangers I’m interacting with. Talking to strangers is well researched which is depicted perfectly on the cases presented. These are easily understood and analyzed perfectly without feeling like you are reading a research paper.
One thing I felt like lacked for me was some sort of conclusions based on these cases and a way forward as to how we should deal with strangers. Having seen the impact of not understanding them throughout these cases, how do we then move forward. I’d highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it. It’s an insightful read and I’m just so excited to read other books by Malcolm.
Title: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know; Author: Malcolm Gladwell; Genre: Self-help; Published: 10 September 2019; Publisher: Penguin; Page count: 386
Today we are now thrown into contact all the time with people whose assumptions, perspectives and backgrounds are different from our own.
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