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Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

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Malcolm Gladwell

8 Hours 43 Minutes

Hachette Book Group USA

September 2019

Audio Book Summary

A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Pres
Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers -- and why they often go wrong.
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?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed--scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There's even a theme song - Janelle Monae's 'Hell You Talmbout.'
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.

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Reviews

  • John W.

    My review is somewhat mixed. The production of the material was outstanding!. Using real-life audio and reenacting other scenes added immeasurably to the presentation of the material. The music was another story: whether or not it was Gladwell's intention to promote a liberal story line, the music did that, especially the repeated screams of "Say his name!" after shouting a name of a supposed "victim" such as Michael Brown or Freddie Gray. I live in a Baltimore suburb and have an entirely different view of Gray: he was a career criminal whose ultimately fatal injuries were at least in part self-induced. He was canonized by local thugs and sycophantic politicians, including a mayor who saw her political career go up in the smoke of the fires and riots that followed. Gray is no one to celebrate. Additionally, while the information was well-researched and reported, there seemed to be no real conclusions reached, no resolution, no strategies to address the problems Gladwell so clearly articulated. As a result, I found the book somewhat incomplete.

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  • Corey O.

    Another brilliant and inquiring experience from our/my favorite author. I would recommend this audiobook to everyone! And to learn how to be polite to everyone you meet, because most of the book slams into your head the message: People are judgemental and can't understand new ideas, things, or people that are different. In all seriousness though: 1. I found the "High quality Podcast" style very entertaining and appreciate the slow emergence of audiobooks adapting pieces of modern style 'Productions'. 2. Most of the parts were very entertaining and educational, but I did feel like the overall message was rather..... childish? Like.... other than the statistics and names of researchers, nothing that was "taught to me" seemed new to me. The decades of research and years of experience all lead to the point of: Don't be rude, be understanding, and trust others till they prove that point wrong. 'Put simply': Treat others like you want to be treated. that thing anyone in grade school, Sunday school, or with decent parents were told. 3. I am glad I didn't spend money on this and it was part of a Christmas special credit program, because I would rather go and listen to a season of a proper, free high quality Podcast then spend money on a 8 1/2 hour "new and special audiobook"

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  • Anonymous

    Phenomenal!

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  • Pete A.

    Positives: The production value was tremendous. Using the audio/film clips and having actors read transcripts for other studies/testimony really helps paint an audio picture. It provides a fullsome/podcast-y listening experience that is easy to consume. Gladwell is a good narrator. The book is interesting and thought provoking and he does a good job of contextualizing things, by applying his thoughts to cases/scenarios you may be aware of. Negatives: I don't really know what the point was. This isn't a book about teaching you strategies for talking to strangers. Some of the ideas in it feel contradictory...it was an interesting journey but I don't know if I ever arrived at the destination. There didn't seem to be any real conclusion - which may have been the point. I'm planning on listening to it again to see if there's something I missed. Though, John W. seems to have the same 'incomplete' feeling that I did.

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  • Laura L.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Donald M.

    Always insightful and fascinating case studies by Gladwell.

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  • Dame C.

    I loved this book! So thoughtful, informative and in depth.

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  • Anonymous

    Always love Malcolms reviews and opinions. Sad book but eye opening

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  • Christopher S.

    I no social justice warrior, but this book got to me. He did such a great job providing both sides of the story and some pretty startling points. I enjoyed it.

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  • Rachel M.

    Excellent insight with great historical content. Nice to listen to actual audio when applicable. This book will have me thinking, would have like to learn more about strategies to talk to strangers. Highly recommend

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