(63)Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Sunday, September 15, 2019

In his new book, Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell takes a unique approach to understand the dynamics when a person encounters a stranger.  In a manner that has become synonymous with Malcolm Gladwell, he makes his point through stories, some you may be familiar with, some may be unknown to you.    But first, he illustrates a few key points about human nature.  Like the fact that humans tend to believe in truth and transparency.   We want to believe that somebody is genuinely kind when they greet us like an old friend.  We want to believe that if a person acts guilty, they are guilty.  We want to believe that a reputable doctor is going to treat our children like a reputable doctor would treat a patient.  But as the author tells the story of Hitler meeting Neville Chamberlain we know that Hitler is not an honorable man, but a monster.  We know that Amanda Knox was innocent of murder, no matter how guilty she acted.  We know that Dr. Nassar molested hundreds of young women, some with their parents in the room.    Why did those parents ignore what was happening before their very eyes? Because they believed the truth that Dr. Nassar was a reputable doctor who would never molest children.

The story that starts and punctuates the book is that of Sandra Bland.   Sandra Bland, by all accounts, was an upstanding citizen. She was on her way to start a new job at a Texas university when pulled over for a minor infraction.  That traffic stop escalated in a way that it never should have and three days later she was dead by suicide in her jail cell.  The author goes deeper than just a traffic stop, though.  And explores the history of traffic stops in the United States and a shift in the approach to traffic stops that started in Kansas City during the 90's.   Why did a simple traffic stop end up with a dead woman?  Because we struggle with knowing how to talk to strangers.

Bottom Line - Malcolm Gladwell is a genius. Every book he writes starts conversations in our country that need to happen.  Talking to Strangers is no different.  It is our differences that make this country so great, but we need to know how to talk to each other. That is what is lacking and causing the divisiveness that is taking over our how country.   How do we open dialogue that is conducive to growth and progress with those who are different from us?  Unfortunately, that HOW is not discussed in Talking to Strangers, but the WHY is there and that is a necessary first step.

  • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • On Instagram
  • Pages: 400
  • Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
  • Publication Date: 9/10/2019
  • Buy it Here! 
  • Thank you to NetGalley for the book in exchange for a review. 

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