“David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” by Malcolm Gladwell


David and Goliath is a book about why underdogs succeed more than they should, and how we misunderstand the true meaning of advantage and disadvantage.


On advantage…

Gladwell says Goliath prepared accordingly for battle, expecting to face a seasoned warrior like himself. He wore elaborate armour including a metal helmet, and had three separate weapons. Goliath, however, overlooked that David was a different type of opponent, a slinger, for which he was not adequately prepared.

Gladwell says, “We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser.”


“We spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that prestige and resources and belonging to elite institutions make us better off. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the ways in which those kinds of material advantages limit our options.”

“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.”

“So much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd [David], who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.”

Something interesting

The battle between David and Goliath took place in the Valley of Elah.

Famous dyslexics include Richard Branson, Charles Schwab and John Chambers, CEO of technology giant Cisco.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham was the most racially divided city in America. It was known as the “Johannesburg of the South.”

Malcolm Gladwell’s mother is West Indian.

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