Malcolm Gladwell

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Outliers Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell grew up in England and Canada, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in history at Trinity College. He did not have the grades to get into a graduate program, and instead looked for journalism jobs in the USA. He moved his way up to The Washington Post and eventually The New Yorker. His first book, The Tipping Point, was released to widespread critical acclaim and Gladwell has enjoyed a successful writing career ever since. He has written five books so far, and plans to continue writing.
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Historical Context of Outliers

Perhaps Gladwell’s biggest concern in this book is the crisis in American public school systems, especially the “achievement gap,” which refers to the difference in educational outcomes, such as high-school and college graduation rates, between lower-income students and students from more affluent communities. In Outliers, Gladwell suggests that this gap is one among the most dire consequences of our culture’s misunderstanding of how success works. He believes a better understanding of success will address many contemporary problems regarding social, racial, and (especially) class inequality.

Other Books Related to Outliers

Gladwell builds off the works of several major 20th-century psychological and sociological researchers, whose research investigates innate ability and cross-cultural dynamics. His aim is to use this research to understand success, talent, and achievement more clearly.
Key Facts about Outliers
  • Full Title: Outliers
  • When Written: 2005-2008
  • Where Written: USA
  • When Published: 2008
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Point of View: Gladwell narrates in first person.

Extra Credit for Outliers

Top 100. In 2005, Time Magazine named Gladwell one of the 100 most influential people of the year.