What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard-but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century?
In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point; Blink; and Outliers. Now, in What the Dog Saw, he brings together, for the first time, the best of his writing from The New Yorker over the same period.
Here is the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling inventions of the pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer" who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and "hindsight bias" and why it was that everyone in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate.
"Good writing," Gladwell says in his preface, "does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head." What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary.
"This evidence of a Gladwell effect helps to predict something larger: that Mr. Gladwell's new book will be as successful as his first three...This book full of short conversation pieces is a collection that plays to the author's strengths. It underscores his way of finding suitably quirky subjects (the history of women's hair-dye advertisements; the secret of Heinz's unbeatable ketchup; even the effects of women's changing career patterns on the number of menstrual periods they experience in their lifetimes) and using each as gateway to some larger meaning." -New York Times Janet Maslin
"Gladwell is a writer of many gifts. His nose for the untold back story will have readers repeatedly muttering, "Gee, that's interesting!" He avoids shopworn topics, easy moralization and conventional wisdom, encouraging his readers to think again and think different...Some chapters are masterpieces in the art of the essay." -The New York Times Book Review Steven Pinker
"Uniformly delightful...Malcolm Gladwell can write engrossingly about just about anything...His witty, probing articles are as essential to David Remnick's New Yorker as those of Wolcott Gibbs and A.J. Liebling were to Harold Ross's...Gladwell has a gift for capturing personalities, a Borscht Belt comic's feel for timing and a bent for counterintuitive thinking. He loves to start a piece by settling you onto a cushion of received ideas, then yanking it out from under you."- Bloomberg News Craig Seligman