Length: 400 pages
Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
First Published: 2019
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In July 2015, a young black woman named Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in rural Texas. Minutes later she was arrested and jailed. Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell. What went wrong? Talking to Strangers is all about what happens when we encounter people we don’t know, why it often goes awry, and what it says about us.
How do we make sense of the unfamiliar? Why are we so bad at judging someone, reading a face, or detecting a lie? Why do we so often fail to ‘get’ other people?
Through a series of puzzles, encounters and misunderstandings, from little-known stories to infamous legal cases, Gladwell takes us on a journey through the unexpected. You will read about the spy who spent years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the man who saw through the fraudster Bernie Madoff, the suicide of the poet Sylvia Plath and the false conviction of Amanda Knox. You will discover that strangers are never simple.
No one shows us who we are like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he sets out to understand why we act the way we do, and how we all might know a little more about those we don’t.
Quotes from Talking to STrangers
The thing we want to learn about a stranger is fragile. If we tread carelessly it will crumple under our feet… The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility.
Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.
Today we are now thrown into contact all the time with people whose assumptions, perspectives, and backgrounds are different from our own.
To assume the best about another is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature gets violated are tragic. But the alternative – to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception – is worse.
About Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is the author of seven books – The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, The Bomber Mafia, What the Dog Saw, David and Goliath and Talking to Strangers. He is the co-founder of the audio content company Pushkin Industries which produces the podcasts Revisionist History and Broken Record. Visit the author’s website →