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Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Published in September of 2019 by Hachette Audio
Read by the author, Malcolm Gladwell

Duration: 8 hours, 42 minutes.

Malcolm Gladwell always writes an interesting book. When you listen to him as an audiobook, it can be frustrating as well because he throws so many ideas at you that you can't possibly write them all down (I couldn't if I wanted to anyway, I do a lot of my listening as I drive).

The general premise behind this book is that it is very hard for people to "read" other people - even people that we see every day. It is even harder for us to read strangers and even harder to read people from different cultures. The more different the culture, the harder to read.

Gladwell starts with the story of the death of Sandra Bland, an African American woman from Chicago who killed herself after a questionable arrest after a questionable traffic stop in Texas.

From there we wander far and wide - cold war espionage cases, policing strategies in Kansas City, Neville Chamberlin's meetings with Adolf Hitler, sociology experiments with participants trying to read facial expressions, judges who grant bail, Bernie Madoff, the affects of alcohol on judgment, famous authors who committed suicide...and more.

Eventually, Gladwell makes his point (some reviewers don't think he made it, but I think he did) - it just takes such a long, circuitous route to get there that, in the end, his final point is a bit underwhelming.

The audiobook was read by the author. He usually reads his audiobooks and does a good job. Lately, he has been doing a regular podcast and he brings the some of the techniques of podcasting to this audiobook. One of the best features is that he uses the actual recordings of people's voices as much as possible when quoting them. It is a great touch that I wish more authors used with their audiobooks.

Rating this audiobook is hard. I enjoyed almost all of it. It was very interesting, even compelling. But, the ending just was underwhelming as I already noted.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: TALKING to STRANGERS: WHAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT the PEOPLE WE DON'T KNOW.

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