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Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,376 ratings)

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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The highly anticipated new book from Malcom Gladwell, host of the chart-topping podcast Revisionist History

With original archival interviews and musical scoring, this enhanced audiobook edition of Talking to Strangers brings Gladwell’s renowned storytelling to life in his unparalleled narrating style.  

The routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy. The spy who spends years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The false conviction of Amanda Knox. Why do we so often get other people wrong? Why is it so hard to detect a lie, read a face or judge a stranger's motives?

Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings - from history, psychology and infamous legal cases - Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual adventure into the darker side of human nature, where strangers are never simple and misreading them can have disastrous consequences.

No one challenges our shared assumptions like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he uses stories of deceit and fatal errors to cast doubt on our strategies for dealing with the unknown, inviting us to rethink our thinking in these troubled times.

©2019 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2019 Malcolm Gladwell

Critic reviews

"I love this book...reading it will actually change not just how you see strangers, but how you look at yourself, the news - the world. Reading this book changed me." (Oprah Winfrey)

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Extra Long Revisionist History...

... but not in a bad way. Gladwell borrows heavily from his podcast in both production and story telling; breaking up the chapters into episodes that could stand alone. The thinking behind the piece, as usual, is extremely interesting and the individual stories are brilliantly fleshed out with actual audio which can break up the rare monotony in the narration.

The theme of the book is a worrying look at how we interact with strangers and our human shortcomings. The only issue I have with Gladwell highlighting each of our fallacies is that knowing about them doesn't seem to help navigate around them (see Kahneman on that).

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Classic Gladwell please do not leave it another 6 years

So what can I say. Within the first few minutes I’m driving along with my jaw on the floor- oh my god! All my commutes have been reduced to minutes whilst Malcom takes me on a journey of enlightenment and discovery. Forget counting down the miles, I arrive home and sit on the drive not wanting to turn this off! I have waited so long for your new book and still you fail to disappoint. Simply brilliant !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

45 of 54 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

A brilliant book or should I say production... the enhancement including audio files from court cases etc brought it to life! Malcom Gladwell as always presents a brilliant case!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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absolutely depressing

absolutely depressing and poor narration of a book.
I just waited my credit for this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Promising start but failed to deliver

Promising start but failed to deliver on expectation as it was a montage of separate case studies but didnt see how they all merged to make up the story. Just different cases of talking to strangers with no real methods on really improving on this as such.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Meanders into nowhere

It starts off with a very interesting premise and chapter 3 is quite excellent but then i fee it goes off a full tangent and doesn’t ever recover where it was meant to be going. It’s as if he has all this material from the podcast and trying to string it together into a book but it’s so disjointed I lost all interest finishing it

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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More like a gripping documentary than an audiobook

Gladwell has an incredible ability of taking news stories we all kinda sorta remember but making you reexamine the "facts" as you thought you knew them..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking stories about strangers

I have read a couple of Malcolm Gladwell's previous books and found them to be both entertaining and informative. Talking To Strangers is equally as good. We all think we are able to suss out strangers but what if they are lying to us? It seems we have an in built tendency to revert to truth i.e. believe them. Gladwell quotes some intriguing experiments including that of a computer programme that outperforms judges at predicting re-conviction rates based on raw data only, and Michael Levine's famous studies on observing and predicting cheats in a controlled experiment. These both demonstrate that humans are very poor indeed in assessing the intentions and trustworthiness of those they do not know and are too likely to rely on instinct regarding, for example, body language or stereotypes to make their assessments.
There are several high profile events that are considered through this book including the unfortunate case of Amanda Knox, the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Bernie Madoff fraud, Chamberlain's meetings with Hitler and even the US TV show Friends. The themes that emerge are consistent and that is that people are inherently willing to trust others and anticipate behaviour patterns and are surprised when the counterparty does not conform.
Like other works by Gladwell, this is thought provoking and intriguing and anyone reading (or listening) to this, will be quoting the stories for days. The Audible version of this book is excellent as it is read by Gladwell and has archive footages of some of the real events that are used for the base material of this book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking in content, modern in form

Finally the audio book responds to the podcast format. Gladwell is in typically original form, applying overlooked historical research to contemporary ideas and issues. The book's main treatise, that a we live is a series of systems that are designed to function based on flawed ideas of human behaviour and interaction is well argued. It is the audio book's format, however, that makes this work easy to recommend over so many others. Presented more as an extended radio documentary or podcast, with recordings of interviews and a musical score, rather than adopting the dryer more typical style of audiobooks, the content of the book is offered in a form that allows it to be more engaging than any other audiobook in its category.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Gladwell delivers a dark, yet moving work.

More of a radio documentary than a book, and probably all the better for it. Original audio and interviews with the people involved give greater depth to Gladwell's uniquely excellent storytelling. As you might expect, it all weaves together at the end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick
  • 03-10-19

Not the most compelling MG book Ive read

I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell content fan. However, I have to say that I enjoyed this book the least out of all of the MG books I have read/listened to.

Positives:
I always appreciate Malcom narrating his own audio books - first class.

I was hugely excited by the novelty of including actual recordings in the book i.e. hearing quotes from the very sources themselves and making it into a kind of podcast on steriods. I think this was novel and a front runner of how future audio books of this nature will evolve. Full marks here.

I enjoyed the high pace and reporting style which the book follows, which aligns to previous MG book formula.

Thought provoking.

Negatives:
The subject and the stories while interesting did not make a convincing argument for me. In comparison to how compelling the subjects, theories and arguments in the stories of Blink, David and Goliath and Tipping Point were, this is not in the same league.

I found the argument tenuous at best. I think the stories were compelling because of their emotive and moral shock value, but the arguments put forward as to why these happened were not convincing ... they almost had a 'conspiracy theory' quality to them. I was hoping for more sources, better examples, less repetition on for example 'default to truth theory' and a clearer and more compelling link and argument. It was however, thought provoking which is I would imagine always an author's objective.

I still remain a fan, and continue to look forward to all of Malcolm Gladwell's content - one to mention, is that I am well into season 4 of Revisionist History and love the subject matter and format of these episodes.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-19

Disappointing

The book delivers none of Gladwell's usual magic of describing a handful of unexamined historical events, and rendering their connection visible in a way that brilliantly supports his thesis. Instead, he recites a string of anecdotes, only to give the most obvious of pronouncements with a self-congratulary smirk. We often get people wrong. We assume people tell the trust most of the time.

It is politically problematic to the point of needing a trigger warning. Brock Turner is said to have raped an unconscious girl due to inebriation. The catalyst for Sandra Bland's death was not police brutality, but a miscommunication.

I enjoyed a few of his other books far too much to be able to finish this one.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-09-19

Book version of Ira Glass's This American

Loved the way Mr. Gladwell brought relevant facts and stories pertaining to the Sandra Bland tragedy. He builds and pulls from Friends, Amanda Knox, and other bits to remind us of the danger of societal stereotypes and acceptance of simple explanations without digging deeper to understand people not like us. This is my favorite of all his books I have read to date.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shipra Dutta
  • 16-01-20

A revelation!!

How I did not understand what happened with me for so many decades! Malcolm Gladwell unraveled each move, blow by blow for me and helped me look ahead with great confidence! I am alive now!

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  • Ellis Barnsley
  • 14-01-20

a good book but

maybe listening to strangers would have been a better title. if you like MG you’ll like this book i’m sure.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-20

Slow start but amazing once you get into it

The actual book was very interesting bit definitely an incredibly slow start- i initially abandoned it and then went back and powered through the first few chapters and found I loved it!

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  • Dirk101
  • 26-12-19

Nothing New

Fantastic production. But viewed critically it is waste of time for someone who is well read. Your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Unless you are keen on understanding diversity better.

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  • collin govender
  • 22-12-19

Insightful and terrifying

Gladwell is at the top of my favorite author list and with talking to strangers he doesn’t disappoint. The texture that is added with the audio book with archived audio and the re-enactments leaves one with a richer experience. The key idea I am taking out of the book is that of coupling.
Amazing read/listen. You will not be disappointed.

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  • James
  • 16-12-19

Love all things Malcolm

Thorough and brilliantly narrated. Gladwell adds a lot of extra value in the audible version of the book,

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  • Richard Smith
  • 09-12-19

Beyond rewiring a complete perspective changer

Captivated through out. There is some very emotionally raw content. Lesson after lesson served with incredible live clips from the cases.
I will remember what I have learnt.