Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers

Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers -- and why they often go wrong.How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other t...

Details Talking to Strangers

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

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...
  • Allie
    TW: detailed descriptions of rape and pedophiliaIf it were possible to give a book negative stars, this would be a -10 for me.Malcolm Gladwell is incredibly influential. From books to podcasts to TED talks, he seems to be everywhere and his story-based approach reaches a large number of people who don't question his credentials as a journalist (with no scientific training) who writes about science. I enjoyed Blink and Outliers despite the often d...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Elyse (semi hiatus) Walters
    Audiobook.. narrated by Malcolm GladwellBeing honest here.... a lot of this book went right over my head. There is so much I don’t know - it’s pathetic & embarrassing. Also reading this ( listening) during the last few days of the year was challenging my lazy brain. I knew it would have been helpful to look up information - (visit my buddy, Google), but I was often soaking in our warm pool, or outside walking. I was a lazy reader/listener wit...
  • 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...
  • 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 a scientist, but I think that I know science when I see it. I ain’t...
  • 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...
  • 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....
  • Stephie
    Well. I think I’ve gotta jump off the Malcolm Gladwell bandwagon. This book really irritated me. First of all, with his previous books, the main argument has been very clear. But ‘Talking with Strangers’ is directionless and, at times, confusing. I didn’t even know what he meant by “strangers” as his definition seemed to keep changing. And I found myself wondering what his point was on more than one occasion. Furthermore, Gladwell has...
  • Mehrsa
    What to say about Gladwell? I read everything he writes and I listen to his podcasts. Even as I cringe when he oversells his simplistic theories and misinterprets academic data to fit into cute stories. There are a lot of great stories in this book and some new takes on old ones, but at the end of the day the lens through which he demands we see these stories (i.e. our "default to truth" in talking to strangers) doesn't work. Sandra Bland's excha...
  • Trevor
    I haven’t been all that impressed by the last few books Gladwell has written and wasn’t even going to read this one at all – but then a friend at work said it related to some of the things I’ve been working on at the moment, and so I got hold of it – and I’m glad I did. In some ways this book could be summed up by saying that we are programmed to trust and believe people and that rather than needing to suspend disbelief, people often ...
  • David
    This is a wonderful book about major issues when talking to people. I thought, initially, that the book would be about everyday conversations during everyday interactions. Not at all. The book is really about the assumptions that we make about other people, and how those assumptions can be drastically wrong. It is about belief systems, and how we react when we encounter evidence that is contrary to those beliefs. Malcolm Gladwell took me into wor...
  • 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...
  • Andy
    Gladwell is an excellent storyteller, but I think that sometimes he's dangerously wrong. When the president of Penn State hears about a former employee coming back to the college at night to "horse around" with a naked 11-year-old boy, well the most likely explanation is not benign. Gladwell keeps saying people default to the "truth" and to the "most likely" explanation. But in examples like this people are defaulting to denial. And that's not ok...
  • Matthew Quann
    My wife and I listened to this audiobook on two drives separated by about four months. I'm an IMMENSE fan of Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast (seriously, give it a listen) and was pretty jazzed to hear that he had decided to take a podcast-like approach for this book. So, instead of Gladwell's soothing voice at all times there's interviews, court readings, etc. It doesn't always work as well as the podcast does--I wish there were more of Gl...
  • Traci at The Stacks
    This book has some MAJOR issues and was pretty enraging and frustrating. The biggest technical issue is that there is no definition of “stranger” which allows Gladwell to mold his thin arguments to any hot button topic he chooses. It feels like a publicity stunt to cram as many controversial people/events into the book for maximum shock value. The other huge issue is about how he discusses rape/racism/abuse without talking about race/power/to...
  • 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...
  • Tanja Berg
    I started reading this book right after I had managed a social gaffe - or so I thought. After I separated from my husband this summer, I started dancing swing. Not to look for anything, but to get out of the house and learn something new. Most of the people at the course were in pairs or retirees. Except a boy in his 30’s. We started talking and we started going to the dance evenings on Wednesdays in addition to the Monday classes. I would danc...
  • Candie
    3.5 stars.I really enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's books. I enjoy his writing style a lot and his books are so thought provoking. He leaves you thinking about things you never would have thought about, in ways you never would have considered. I like how he gets you to look at things from different perspectivesI am torn on this book. I did really enjoy reading it but I did not agree with everything he said, especially in the areas regarding racism and se...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • BookOfCinz
    Like Cortes, we need translators to make sense of the world. Talking to Strangers is about why we are so bad at that act of translation Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know at the core set out to show why we are so bad at communicating with strangers and what gets in the way. Gladwell, through a series of stories showed how talking to strangers can go really far left. Is this my favourite Gladwell book? No. ...
  • Brandon Forsyth
    I really like Malcolm Gladwell, and I think some of his writing belongs in the Hall of Fame, but it’s hard to read this book and not feel like he’s sort of missed the point. No chapter on race? No chapter on gender? I can (maybe) understand trying to look beyond those things to the root of what makes us so bad at interacting with other people, but it feels like many of the examples he’s taken here (Sandra Bland in particular) have huge fact...