Even though I’ve know about Malcolm Gladwell for years with his Blink and The Tipping Point books, I’ve never read anything by him. I have all these books, but they are sitting, sitting, sitting. I’ve had several people talk to me about David and Goliath since last spring, and finally decided to read something by him. I certainly was glad that I did. The subtitle to David and Goliath is “Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” Gladwell takes us through several situations where David defeats Goliath, and why he was able to do so. This is meant literally (Gladwell begins with the Biblical narrative) and figuratively. He has so many stories about this, from French painters to a children’s cancer doctor to the civil rights movement to the struggle in Northern Ireland. These are stories that I have not thought much about before this book. The principle that Gladwell uses often is the inverted U graph to discuss how an advantage eventually gives way to becoming a disadvantage. There is a point, he says, that parents with financial means actually help parent kids better. Eventually on the graph, there is a point when too much money becomes a […]
I read most of this for November’s Apologia, but then took my time finishing it up. It has already been reviewed by Mark and Ron so I won’t reiterate the premise of the book. My favorite part of the book were where Guinness showed the historical progression of democratic theory throughout the classical world and then compared and contrasted the American and French Revolutions. The emphasis on the imporatance of history was refreshing and helped my thinking as I read through 1984 simultaneously. The biggest weakness in my opinion was that while he did a good job of showing that a strong democracy demands a strong faith, I felt he barely even discussed why or why not a strong Christian faith demands a democracy. The passion of my heart and goal of my life is not to secure democracy but serve the Kingdom of Christ. My concerns for the sustainability of democracy are subserviant to my concern of the spread of the Gospel. I felt like that aspect was missing from this book. Perhaps that is a book for a different audience.
Mark and Drew have already amply reviewed this book, so I won’t rehash the plot. Suffice it to say that this is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in a long time. Here are a few of the many thoughts that have lingered since reading 1984 months ago: History matters: Much of the world of 1984 and the oppressive regime that is symbolized by “Big Brother” revolves around the governments’ control of history. One of the key doctrines that is repeated over and over again is “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” The “Ministry of Truth” for which the main character Winston works for, is constantly revising, erasing, and rewriting history. This perverting of history keeps the masses in subjection to Big Brother as it robs them of their identity and keeps them in an ongoing present – never affording them the opportunity to reflect and learn on the success and failures of past generations. It is no coincidence that God continually told and tells his people to REMEMBER. In virtually ever book of the Bible there is a command to remember. Here is just a small sample: “This […]
The premise of this book is this paradox: “the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom” (19). Guinness continues saying that “Americans today are heedlessly pursuing a vision of freedom that is short-lived and suicidal. Once again, freedom without virtue, leadership without character, business without trust, law without customs, education without meaning and medicine, science and technology without human considerations can only end in disaster” (29). A Free People’s Suicide is an outsider’s view of the strength of America (Guinness is an Irishman); the book is the same vein of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, which is heavily quoted in the book. While praising American freedom, he cautions that we will lose freedom when the freedoms we enjoy are not tethered to something larger than the idea of freedom itself. I probably should have enjoyed this book more than I did. Even though I like Guinness’s perspective on issues, his writing feels unclear to me. Perhaps it is my lack of knowledge on the issues that Guinness raises. Or, maybe it was because I read this in the final days of the 2012 election, and we met in our Apologia book group after the results were announced. It’s an […]