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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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  • Anonymous

    Phenomenal!

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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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  • Paul P.

    I enjoyed it. The title is a bit misleading, but the content is great, and hearing Gladwell read it, made it even better. He definitely does his research, and presents it clearly and effectively. Timely topic and issues that we still need to discuss.

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  • Michael S.

    what a great narration as well as the whole story line.

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  • Bruce G.

    Excellent production with incredible primary research that includes original audio of historical events. Gladwell does a masterful job challenging preconceived notions. It would be nice to conclude it with some proscriptions of how to avoid repeating these mistakes, but the book is a 5 star listen / read nonetheless!

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  • Damien DAMBRE

    A very interesting way of talking about human relations. And I must say this audio book brings this relatively new art to a new level : there is more than one voice on this one, and that makes it so much more alive! I really loved it. I wish you a good listening.

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  • Maria B.

    This book analyses human interactions and draws valid rationals that explain why talking to strangers is challenging. The quality of the research illustrates Empathy

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  • Santos C.

    Best storyteller... This book does not disappoint Gladwell fans or for first-timers its Gladwell at his best.

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  • Brian K.

    I give this book 3.5/5 stars. PROS: excellent production quality. It flys by like a good episode of This American Life or Invisibilia. I wish all audio books had this level of flair. I hadnt really thought about the concept of Coupling, which is very interesting. CONS: For all its intensity, it was not particularly illuminating or revelatory— ‘be careful when talking to strangers’ ...no kidding. I also felt like he was bending hugely complicated human conflicts to fit his theories that in truth aren”t so cut and dry. For example, Gladwell doesnt even begin to consider that Officer Encinia’s obvious racism was also a factor in Bland’d mistreatment beyond simplying misunderstanding her behavior. And what about other people besides Chamberlain who met Hitler in person but werent fooled by his friendly and cooperative manners? Conclusion: Thought provoking and enjoyable (if all the super bleak stories doesnt depress you) but don’t expect any answers or resolutions. it all just hangs in the air like the smoke after a fireworks show.

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