“Outliers” the Book by Malcolm Gladwell Essay (Critical Writing)

November 17, 2020 by Essay Writer

“Outliers” has become a highly influential book since its publication in 2008. Malcolm Gladwell examined a variety of factors for success including language, the time dedicated to the craft and even the date of a person’s birth. After reading the book, its positive and negative aspects have become apparent and will be discussed in this review.

Impressive Parts

Perhaps the most impressive part of the book is the way that Gladwell captivates the reader by making complex ideas more palatable to the general audience. He took a variety of research articles on sociology and constructed a believable set of factors that may lead to success. The positive message of the book is also worthy of note as it emphasizes the value of equal opportunity in work. The high sales of the book and the popularity of its ideas have shown that his writing was convincing to a large number of people who often choose to ignore the criticism of the book from outside sources.


The style of the book expresses a certain charisma that pushes the reader toward believing the ideas expressed in the text. It is well structured and fast paced, especially for a non-fiction book filled with statistics and relatively complex ideas. Gladwell’s writing is easy to read, and all the primary ideas are memorable. However, perhaps the most positive aspect of the book lies in one of the ideas expressed by the author.

Gladwell believes that all that is truly required for success is hard work and that anyone can achieve greatness despite lacking innate talent. This is a highly optimistic message to which the author dedicates a large portion of the book. His call for people to recognize the potential of those who are being overlooked due to their socio-economic status or for any other reason is genuinely inspiring and elicits frustration due to the lack of government programs that would allow such students, workers, and artists to utilize the skills they have cultivated over the years.

His ideas on how language affects human perception are also not without merit. Language often reflects on the society that uses it, focusing the thinking process of the user towards specific cultural ideas. The way in which this idea is presented may be questionable, but rings true nonetheless.


The book suffers from major oversimplification and generalization of the studies that it is based on. When viewing it from a more critical lens, these issues become apparent. The number of studies cited in the book are too few to make concrete assumptions, and in some cases, the authors of the studies have stated that their research was misinterpreted by the author either accidentally or deliberately to support his point of view.

Gladwell often relies on circumstantial and anecdotal evidence that is presented as more substantial than it is, and in some cases, conclusions are made with almost no solid evidence behind them. Some of them are problematic in nature as they ignore socioeconomic factors and rely on memorable but simplistic statements like the idea that Chinese people are better at math because it takes less time to say the numbers in their language.

His description of Bill Gates’ success is also partially inaccurate. While his experiences with early personal computers allowed him to be one of the first people who managed to capitalize on their success, his achievements were not gained by his talent alone. Gates was aided by a variety of individuals and in some cases, stole projects created by others to achieve his goals. For example, MS-DOS was based on a reverse engineered OS made by a less competitive developer.


The popularity of “Outliers” cannot be underestimated. Its readers were captivated by the style of Gladwell’s writing and the memorable ideas that he explored. However, the book is based on insufficient evidence and presents its ideas in an oversimplified manner that hurts its credibility.

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