Review: Talking to Strangers

Review Talking to Strangers

As an introvert, just the title of Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest book, Talking to Strangers, was intimidating. However, this isn’t a how-to. The subtitle, What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know, promises that the book will offer interesting and deep-dives into who we consider strangers, in a way only Malcolm Gladwell can. And Talking to Strangers delivers.

From the publisher:

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?

Talking to Strangers is a classically Gladwellian intellectual adventure, a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. He revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, and the death of Sandra Bland—throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt.

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.

Talking to Strangers is fascinating, entertaining and informative.

The stories Gladwell uses to illustrate the various difficulties in assessing strangers’ intentions are very interesting. Some of the theories were totally new to me, such as the Coupling Theory, used to show how suicide rates in England decreased with the move away from the Carbon Monoxide-laden Coal Gas.

I have enjoyed Gladwell’s other books, as well as his podcast, Revisionist History. Talking to Strangers is highly recommended if you’re interested in learning more about people.

Leave a Comment