Malcolm Gladwell

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Outliers: Eplg Summary & Analysis

Gladwell ends his book by telling the story of his own life, and tracking his own successes and failures back to cultural legacies, opportunities, and good fortune. His grandmother was the great-granddaughter of acclaimed businessman William Ford (Henry Ford’s father). She lives in the northwestern end of Jamaica, where her lighter skin (due to her partially white genetic heritage) gave her many advantages. Mulattos had it relatively good in Jamaica. If they were slaves, they were rarely required to do hard labor, and were often left substantial fortunes when their white master died off. Gladwell’s grandmother was lucky to be Mulatto, and enjoyed a certain amount of privilege. She grew up in a culture of possibility—“these were history’s gifts to my family,” writes Gladwell, “and if the privileges of that skin tone had been extended to others, how many more would now live a life of fulfillment, in a beautiful house high on a hill?”
Gladwell’s epilogues adds a kind of personal touch to his argument, making it all the more accessible to the reader. Gladwell, like Bill Gates and Joe Flom and the Beatles and Bill Joy, can trace his own success back to a series of specific opportunities, cultural privilege, and just good luck. He believes his success doesn’t have to be so unusual or unique, and that by expanding opportunity, we can increase the likelihood of success for all.
Success and Failure Theme Icon
Talent, Opportunity, Work, and Luck Theme Icon
Timing and Historical Context Theme Icon
Privilege, Heritage, and Cultural Background Theme Icon
Solutions and Implications for the Future Theme Icon