Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers

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...

Details Talking to Strangers

TitleTalking to Strangers
Release DateSep 10th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
GenreNonfiction, Psychology, Science, Sociology, Audiobook

Reviews Talking to Strangers

  • Emily May
    I was trying to work through my thoughts on this book when Goodreads did an interview with Malcolm Gladwell and this one thing he said just made everything clear for me: “I've never been a writer who's looked to persuade his readers; I'm more interested in capturing their interest and curiosity.” Because, truthfully, I don't know that Gladwell did fully convince me of his way of thinking with this book. I don't know that I actually agree that...
  • 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 b...
  • BlackOxford
    Never Trust a Blood RelativeTalking to Strangers is an elaboration of a simple (trivial?) idea: It’s very difficult to tell when people are lying. According to Timothy Levine, the academic psychologist on whom Gladwell relies for his basic argument, the presumption that people tell the truth is almost universal, a few Holy Fools (and, I suppose, Judge Judy) excepted. Levine calls this his Truth Default Theory. Gladwell applies it entertainingly...
  • Betsy
    9/2/2019--I'm knocking this down to two stars. Gladwell's really bad takes on things like race and sexual assault just don't deserve an okay rating.Wow, does this book ever suffer from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease! I almost didn’t make it past the introduction. In my pre-publication copy, Gladwell writes, “The Sandra Bland case came in the middle of a strange interlude in American public life” and then goes on to discuss a series ...
  • David
    I'm glad that those nice people at Goodreads chose me randomly to receive an old-school paper copy of this book, free of charge. It will be a novel feeling to actually have read a controversial book before it hits the shelves and generates the predictably shallow hot takes in the few moments before the world's attention moves onto something else.Perhaps I'm engaging in a display of unwarranted optimism to think that a mere book can have an effect...
  • Megan
    UPDATE 9/23/19I have now changed this to one star. The more I read about this and other pseudo psych crap he no no. The enjoyment of some parts of the book does not outweigh the total garbage of parts of it. Two examples are linked below, with a particularly shocking tidbit from one: most important part of the first link:Gladwell: You know I have that c...
  • Peter Tillman
    Off to a rousing start, and written to Gladwell's usual high standards. He does his homework, and surprises us at many turns. The Nature review that follows is full & fair. I doubt that I will find anything substantial to add. But I didn't end up liking the book as much as I expected. 3.5 stars, rounded down for the wandering and discursive narrative, and the inconclusive & disappointing ending.So: read Nature's review first, and if you are intri...
  • SheAintGotNoShoes
    Thanks so much for choosing me as winner in the giveaway !I loved this book !! I always thought about the disparity of meeting someone who seemed 'so nice' and someone you wanted to develop a friendship or relationship with, only to have an opposite view shortly after. Did I misjudge ? Am I too picky, critical and judgmental ? Are they really a sociopath ?This book explains a lot of that thru mismatching, which is basically how someone appears at...
  • David Wineberg
    Malcolm Gladwell’s latest foray into human folly is its seemingly innate trust in strangers. We assume strangers are transparent, and can take what they do and say at face value. Sometimes we are wrong, but assuming everyone is evil is far worse. Talking To Strangers focuses (mostly) on a number of very high profile criminal cases we are all likely to be familiar with. They include the Amanda Knox case, the Jerry Sandusky case, the Brock Turner...
  • Toni
    In Talking to Strangers, I believe all Malcolm really wants to tell us, is everything our parents use to tell us: 1. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers (or in magazines, or the internet.) 2. Trust only family, not strangers; but be careful everywhere. 3. Don’t believe anything anyone tells you until you check it out first. (This could’ve meant, ask Mom and/or Dad, go to the library, ask someone we know and is smart.)Most people...
  • Celeste
    This is certainly a provocative book, enough so that despite my anger and frustration I finished reading it in the hope it would conclude with a complex and thoughtful analysis of why our differences and history result in so much misunderstanding when strangers interact with each other. Sadly my expectations were not realized. The real life examples that he used were not truly examined in depth and the lack of complexity often left me frustrated....
  • Rachel
    I’m always fascinated and provoked by Gladwell’s work—this book is no exception. But there are some big leaps here that make me itchy. Still processing. Bottom line: We’re generally terrible at understanding the actions of strangers, and when things take a turn for the worse/unexpected, we blame the stranger. Got it. Feel it. And I like how Gladwell sheds light on the Sandra Bland case. The section on Brock Turner? It troubled me.
  • RuthAnn
    Recommended, with a lot of inner conflict and trigger warnings[Thank you to and Hachette Audio for my free copy of the audiobook for review] I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan, and I jumped at the chance to listen to his newest release. Gladwell is an excellent reader of his own work, and he takes it up a notch here by translating his book into a full audio production with music, news clips, and voice reenactments. Fans of his podcast, Rev...
  • Megan Bell
    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.
  • KC
    In Gladwell's latest work, he explores our misconception and often mistakably inconsistence of innocence or guilt, happy or sad, trustworthy or criminal. Reflecting on historic situations, from Hitler to Sylvia Plath, Bernie Madoff to Amanda Knox, humankind has made slow efforts to uncover what someone else is really feeling or who they truly are. This book does not offer any advice for a quick fix but reminds us all how terribly difficult it is ...
  • Janet Newport
    Fascinating stuff!This was an easy read for me. In this book, Mr. Gladwell analyzes some "ripped from the headlines" cases such as the Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Madoff scandals and how they were perputrated for years before finally coming to light. His analysis is within the framework of our normal societal defaults explains why/how these rascals lasted as long as they did. Well worth the read for me.4.5 stars rounded up
  • Renee (itsbooktalk)
    4.5 starsI really enjoyed this audiobook narrated by the author. Fascinating, thought provoking read!
  • John
    I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's pieces for years now in the New Yorker. He writes with insight. I enjoyed this book very much and read it in two days. Gladwell challenges us to take a second look at assumptions. The things we "default" to (and "default" is an important word in this book) may not be as they seem and may lead us off in a direction away from truths or understandings. He demonstrates this by having us look at people and situatio...
  • Leftbanker
    If this had just been stories about spies and the meeting between Hernán Cortés and Montezuma or whatever, I would have rated it five stars. There’s no question that Malcolm Gladwell is a good storyteller, I just wish that he would leave it at that and stop trying to shoe-horn a bunch of tall tales into some sort of coherent statement about the state of the world. I’m not scientist but I think that I know science when I see it. I ain’t se...
  • Janday
    I read a sample of this book that I obtained as an employee of Hachette book group. Longer review closer to pub date.
  • Andy
    Gladwell is an excellent storyteller, but I think he's very wrong on some of his major arguments. First of all, he seems sort of surprised that people are gullible and that social trust is important for social animals to thrive. He talks about the Milgram experiments, and gets lost in the weeds about how they were bad theater, underemphasizing the main point, i.e. that 65% of people were sheep who obeyed authority figures telling them to do insan...
  • Elaine
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of Talking to Strangers. I was stoked when I saw my request was approved. I'm a Malcolm Gladwell fan and I love his writing.In Talking to Strangers, Mr. Gladwell examines some of the most controversial scandals in American history, from the spy games our government dealt with in regards to Fidel Castro, to the horrific crimes perpetrated by pedophiles Sandusky and doctor pervert Nassar, to th...
  • Morelia (Strandedinbooks)
    I’m actually very unsure about my rating. Perhaps I stand with 3.5, but let’s stick to 3 for a bit because I’m stuck and have many many thoughts.For starters, the first half of the audiobook was really good! I appreciated learning about new cases that I’d never even heard about and getting to explore the topic about how and why we suck at talking to or dealing with strangers, but then...The entire coverage of the Brock Turner case in this...
  • Jennifer
    I DNF'd this book after reading too many cringey statements from Gladwell. He wants to categorize a whole range of evils -- from the victimization of unarmed black people (Sandra Bland) to women being raped at colleges parties (Brock Turner) -- as mere "communication" issues between people. Sure, there might be some element of miscommunication, but it completely misses the point that there are much larger problems and bigger things going on beyon...
  • Lindsay Nixon
    3.75 stars The audiobook version is effectively a podcast season, complete with sound clips from interviews as well as enhanced audio trimmings.Historically I have liked his books, and while I found this interesting, I didn’t like it as much. I feel the same about his podcast. I am impressed by his research and delivery, usually find the topics curious or interesting, but it's rarely a "revelation" (hardly ever a spiritual or intellectual recko...
  • Ian Bishop
    Overall, this book was entertaining and provided an interesting lens to re-evaluate stories that I was already familiar with.I found his treatment of the Stanford rape case & Sandra Bland very troublesome.He spent way too much time describing the events from the perspective of Brock Turner. He barely slips in at the end his story was likely shaped by his lawyers and did not align well with his statements or actions at the time of his arrest. I ju...
  • Kiwiflora
    When we meet people for the first time - a stranger - we are programmed to want a positive interaction with that person. We greet them courteously, as we have been taught; we look for body language cues and cues in what they say or how they say things that we are familiar with, that we can relate to. We want to be liked by this new person, and have a good exchange of whatever it may be - medical advice, shop assistants, the police, our children's...