Cover image for Talking to strangers : what we should know about the people we don't know
Title:
Talking to strangers : what we should know about the people we don't know
ISBN:
9780316478526
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
xii, 386 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
Contents:
Introduction: "Step out of the car!" -- Part one: Spies and diplomats: two puzzles. Fidel Castro's revenge ; Getting to know der Führer -- Part two: Default to truth. The queen of Cuba ; The holy fool ; Case study: The boy in the shower -- Part three: Transparency. The Friends fallacy ; A (short) explanation of the Amanda Knox case ; Case study: The fraternity party -- Part four: Lessons. KSM: what happens when the stranger is a terrorist? -- Part five: Coupling. Sylvia Plath ; Case study: The Kansas City experiments ; Sandra Bland.
Summary:
In this thoughtful treatise spurred by the 2015 death of African-American academic Sandra Bland in jail after a traffic stop, New Yorker writer Gladwell (The Tipping Point) aims to figure out the strategies people use to assess strangers-to "analyze, critique them, figure out where they came from, figure out how to fix them," in other words: to understand how to balance trust and safety. He uses a variety of examples from history and recent headlines to illustrate that people size up the motivations, emotions, and trustworthiness of those they don't know both wrongly and with misplaced confidence.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Copies
Status
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 2
Searching...
Searching...
Book 302 GLA 0 1
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2019
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 that isn't true?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers , you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed--scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There's even a theme song - Janelle Monae's "Hell You Talmbout."
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.


Author Notes

In 2005, Time named Malcolm Gladwell one of its 100 most influential people. He is the author of three books, each of which reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. They are: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. His fourth book, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures was published in 2009.

He is a is a British-born Canadian journalist and author. Gladwell was a reporter for the Washington Post from 1987 to 1996, working first as a science writer and then as New York City bureau chief. Since 1996, he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker. He graduated with a degree in history from the University of Toronto's Trinity College in 1984.

(Publisher Provided) Malcolm Gladwell, non-fiction writer and journalist, was born in England on Sept 3, 1963. He was raised in rural Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in History.

Gladwell was previously a business and science reporter for the Washington Post and is currently a staff writer with the New Yorker magazine. He is well-known for his many New York Times bestselling books: Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. His writing is often a product of sociology and psychology with implications for the social sciences and business. Gladwell became a successful public speaker after writing his bestselling books.

In 2005, Time Magazine named Gladwell one of its 100 most influential people. Gladwell's most famous quote comes from his book, Outliers; he states that "It takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert..." at any competition or task.

Gladwell was appointed to the Order of Canada on June 30, 2011. Gladwell describes himself as a Christian. He was raised in the Mennonite tradition, and wandered away from his Christian roots when he moved to New York, only to rediscover his faith during the writing of David and Goliath and through his encounter with Wilma Derksen. In 2005, Gladwell commanded approximately $45,000 for his speaking fee. His books include: Outliers, Blink, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this thoughtful treatise spurred by the 2015 death of African-American academic Sandra Bland in jail after a traffic stop, New Yorker writer Gladwell (The Tipping Point) aims to figure out the strategies people use to assess strangers-to "analyze [those strategies], critique them, figure out where they came from, figure out how to fix them," in other words: to understand how to balance trust and safety. He uses a variety of examples from history and recent headlines to illustrate that people size up the motivations, emotions, and trustworthiness of those they don't know both wrongly and with misplaced confidence. He relates, for example, the story of a whole cadre of American spies in Cuba who were carefully handpicked by American intelligence operatives, all of whom turned out to be pro-Castro double agents. Gladwell writes in his signature colorful, fluid, and accessible prose, though he occasionally fails to make fully clear the connection between a seemingly tangential topic such as suicide risk and the book's main questions. In addition to providing an analysis of human mental habits and interactions, Gladwell pleas for more thoughtful ways of behaving and advocates for people to embrace trust, rather than defaulting to distrust, and not to "blame the stranger." Readers will find this both fascinating and topical. Agent: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Like his New Yorker articles and previous books, Gladwell's newest is chock-full of gripping anecdotes from the recent and forgotten past, from Amanda Knox's overturned murder conviction to the double agents who sunk the CIA's spying efforts in 1980s Cuba. He uses these riveting stories to offer up bite-size observations about how we engage with strangers. For example, we think of ourselves as complex but of strangers as straightforward. Not so, Gladwell insists. The stranger is not easy; she is never as transparent as we believe. Gladwell's case studies are thrilling, but their relevance to everyday encounters is frequently obtuse, and the takeaways from them are often buried or provocative. Ultimately, Gladwell argues that it's essential to give strangers the benefit of the doubt, even in very different situations, such as when Penn State president Graham Spanier accepted reports of Jerry Sandusky's suspicious behavior with a minor as horseplay and when Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulled Sandra Bland over after a minor traffic infraction. Readers may find that Gladwell's alluringly simple lesson dangerously oversimplifies power dynamics in twenty-first-century America.--Maggie Taft Copyright 2010 Booklist


Guardian Review

Are these lessons on 'the stranger problem' and how to engage with other people anything more than statements of the obvious? Believe it or not, people aren't totally transparent to one another. Liars can seem honest, spies can seem loyal, nervous people can seem guilty. People's facial expressions are not a reliable guide to what they are thinking. Or, to put it in Hamlet's words, one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. Makes you think, doesn't it? If any of this is surprising to you, then you are in exalted company, because it also surprises Malcolm Gladwell, whose job it is to be puzzled by banalities and then replace them, after a great pseudo-intellectual circumambulation, with banalities. Gladwell affects to find it baffling how we can get people we don't know so wrong. So he calls it "the stranger problem", and pretends that it explains everything. It explains, for example, the fate of a young black woman named Sandra Bland. Gladwell introduces her by remarking that she was "tall and striking, with a personality to match", which is just the kind of deft pen-portrait that has earned him a reputation as a brilliant writer for the best magazines. In Texas in 2015, Bland was pulled over for a traffic infraction by a cop named Brian Encinia. The encounter rapidly degenerated as the hostile and suspicious state trooper forced her out of the car, called for backup, and had her arrested. Days later Bland was found dead in her cell. You will guess that there is a counterintuitive take coming: Gladwell wants us to feel sorry for the cop. "Think about how hard it was" for him, he pleads. "Sandra Bland was not someone Brian Encinia knew from the neighborhood or down the street. They were strangers to each other." Other policemen stop strangers all the time without bullying them and hauling them in, but never mind that now. Encinia, as Gladwell credulously interprets his subsequent statements, was "terrified" of this young woman, who might after all have been planning to burn him with her cigarette. It's very difficult, don't you see, not to be a brute. What else is it difficult not to be? In Gladwell's world of large ideas, it may also be hard not to be a rapist when you're drunk. He brings his forensic empathy to the case of Brock Turner, the Stanford college student who was caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the ground outside a dorm building. Such a difficult case! Gladwell explains sorrowfully that consuming large amounts of alcohol causes mental "myopia", where one is unable to consider the long-term consequences of one's actions. It's just too bad, he concludes, that these careless students both got so drunk at a party that the man could "tragically misunderstand" the woman's intentions. You may object that plenty of men are able to get blattered without raping anyone, but that seems to be beyond Malcolm Gladwell. To be sure, this book is not exclusively about standing up for the unlucky men who accidentally do bad things just because the "stranger problem" is so lamentably intractable. It is also littered with historical and pop-cultural anecdotes. Why did Chamberlain think Hitler sincerely wanted peace? Such a "puzzle" leads us through stories about Cuban espionage, predatory paedophiles, the Bernie Madoff fraud, Sylvia Plath's suicide, the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the TV show Friends. "Maybe real life isn't like Friends," Gladwell suggests, momentously. Gladwell bases his book on a single notion called "truth-default theory". We tend to assume that other people are telling the truth, which is the basis of trust and social cooperation, so liars are hard to spot. Not mentioned here is the well-known opposite phenomenon: that, far from defaulting to truth, we believe only the information that fits with our preconceived biases. Both ideas are right, because the world is complicated, but Gladwell's job is to make it seem simple. Another teachable story here is that of Amanda Knox, the American student in Perugia who was imprisoned for murder (and later acquitted) because her behaviour after the crime seemed extremely odd. Gladwell assures us that weird behaviour is not reliable evidence of guilt. There is a psychological phenomenon called "the illusion of asymmetric insight": we consider ourselves opaque to others, while thinking that other people are easy to read correctly. "If I can convince you of one thing in this book," he announces dramatically, "let it be this: Strangers are not easy." Perhaps if we can all become convinced of this novel truth, we will stop harassing and raping one another for good. If only someone like Shakespeare had encoded the lesson centuries ago in some memorable form, like, I don't know, "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face." In the absence of such poetic conventional wisdom, though, another book by Gladwell just might save the world.


Kirkus Review

The latest intellectually stimulating book from the acclaimed author.Every few years, journalist Gladwell (David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, 2013, etc.) assembles serious scientific research on oddball yet relevant subjects and then writes a bestseller. Readers expecting another everything-you-think-you-know-is-wrong page-turner will not be disappointed, but they will also encounter some unsettling truths. The author begins with a few accounts of black Americans who died at the hands of police, using the incidents to show how most of us are incompetent at judging strangers. Countless psychological studies demonstrate that humans are terrible at detecting lying. Experts such as FBI agents don't perform better. Judges interview suspects to determine if they deserve bail; they believe it helps, but the opposite is true. Computers, using only hard data, do much better. Many people had qualms about Bernie Madoff, but interviewers found him completely open and honest; "he was a sociopath dressed up as a mensch." This, Gladwell emphasizes, is the transparency problem. We believe that someone's demeanor reflects their thoughts and emotions, but it often doesn't. Gladwell's second bombshell is what he calls "default to truth." It seems like a university president resigns in disgrace every few months for the same reason: They hear accusations of abusive behavior by an employeee.g., Larry Nassar at Michigan State, Jerry Sandusky at Penn Stateconduct an investigation, but then take no action, often claiming that they did not have enough evidence of deceit. Ultimately, everyone agrees that they were criminally negligent. Another example is CIA official James Angleton, who was convinced that there was a Soviet mole in the agency; his decades of suspicion and search ruined careers and crippled American intelligence. Gladwell emphasizes that society could not function if we did not give everyone the benefit of the doubt. "To assume the best of another is the trait that has created modern society," he writes. "Those occasions when our trusting nature is violated are tragic. But the alternativeto abandon trust as a defense against predation and deceptionis worse."Another Gladwell tour de force but perhaps his most disturbing. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

The prolific, best-selling Gladwell (David and Goliath; The Tipping Point) presents an intriguing analysis of what far too often goes wrong when strangers meet, diving deeply into relatively well-known controversial public incidents thoroughly covered by the mass media to cast doubt on how the general public has come to understand these events. The deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Pennsylvania State University, and the death of Sandra Bland highlight the premise that ordinary tools and techniques used to make sense of people we don't know have failed society. The result of this failure is further conflict and misunderstanding that impact international relations and even threaten world order. Many of the examples exemplify how race, gender, age, language, country of origin, perceived threat, challenge to authority, contextual setting, and other variables can dominate impulsive behavior that shuns connections among people. VERDICT This work should stimulate further research that could serve as control for these variables and more directly link how the factor of strangeness might influence certain reactions, providing a valuable contribution to psychology and psychiatry collections in larger university libraries.--Dale Farris, Groves, TX