Tipping Point (Gladwell)

Book Reviews 
The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, is a lively, timely and engaging study of fads... Gladwell, who made his career in journalism as a science writer, has a knack for explaining psychological experiments clearly; The Tipping Point is worth reading just for what it tells us about how we try to make sense out of the world.
Alan Wolfe - New York Times Book Review


An imaginative...treatise that's likely...to generate some buzz...it's hard not to be persuaded by Gladwell's thesis. Not only does he assemble a fascinating mix of facts in support of his theory...but he also manages to weave everything into a cohesive explanation of human behavior. What's more, we appreciate the optimism of a theory that supports, as another pundit once called it, the power of one...there's little doubt that the material will keep you awake.
Business Week


The Tipping Point is propelled by its author's voracious but always amiable curiosity.... Gladwell has a knack for rendering complex theories in clear, elegant prose, and he makes a charismatic tour guide. As a result, the book's constant movement from one cultural realm to the next...never produces any literary motion sickness.
San Francisco Chronicle Book Review


When it was first published in 2000, Malcolm Gladwell's book about social epidemics "tipped." It made the bestseller lists both here and abroad. It became a popular phenomenon. This is what The Tipping Point is all about. Gladwell's concept, the topic of sociologists since the 1970s, is that trends and ideas take off—reach the tipping point—for some reason, usually because of the influence of a small group or even one individual. He offers as his first example the resurgence in popularity among the cool people of Hush Puppies, the brushed-suede shoes that were down to sales of a mere 30,000 pairs a year. Suddenly in 1995 they became a hot property and they sold 430,000 pairs a year. The same phenomenon occurs with crimes, children's television (Sesame Street and Blue's Clues), smoking among the young, direct mail, and Paul Revere's famous ride. Gladwell says that the best way to think of these trends is to see them as epidemics; they spread like viruses do. And in that spread some people are more influential than others. He posits three rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. His explanations are persuasive. His ideas on smoking among youngsters and how to slow it should be required reading by government officials at all levels. In his new afterword, Gladwell touches on the AIDS epidemic, improving public schools in tough neighborhoods, the massacre at Columbine High School, and finding Mavens, those influential people who make things happen. Highly recommended for its clear exposition of important issues. Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults.
Janet Julian - KLIATT


The premise of this facile piece of pop sociology has built-in appeal: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or "tipping point" is reached, changing the world. Gladwell's thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors "spread just like viruses do" remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of "word-of-mouth epidemics" triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened. (Paul Revere, for example, was a Maven and a Connector). Gladwell's applications of his "tipping point" concept to current phenomena—such as the drop in violent crime in New York, the rebirth of Hush Puppies suede shoes as a suburban mall favorite, teenage suicide patterns and the efficiency of small work units—may arouse controversy. For example, many parents may be alarmed at his advice on drugs: since teenagers' experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, seldom leads to hardcore use, he contends, "We have to stop fighting this kind of experimentation. We have to accept it and even embrace it." While it offers a smorgasbord of intriguing snippets summarizing research on topics such as conversational patterns, infants' crib talk, judging other people's character, cheating habits in school children, memory sharing among families or couples, and the dehumanizing effects of prisons, this volume betrays its roots as a series of articles for The New Yorker, where Gladwell is a staff writer: his trendy material feels bloated and insubstantial in book form.
Publishers Weekly


This genial book by The New Yorker contributor Gladwell considers the elements needed to make a particular idea take hold. The "tipping point" (not a new phrase) occurs when something that began small (e.g., a few funky kids in New York's East Village wearing Hush Puppies) turns into something very large indeed (millions of Hush Puppies are sold). It depends on three rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. Episodes subjected to this paradigm here include Paul Revere's ride, the creation of the children's TV program Sesame Street, and the influence of subway shooter Bernie Goetz. The book has something of a pieced-together feel (reflecting, perhaps, the author's experience writing shorter pieces) and is definitely not the stuff of deep sociological thought. It is, however, an entertaining read that promises to be well publicized. Recommended for public libraries. —Ellen Gilbert, Rutgers Univ. Lib., New Brunswick, NJ
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