The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point Characters

Gaetan Dugas

The supposed “Patient Zero” during the North American HIV epidemic—in other words, the first person known to have contracted HIV and brought it to Canada and America—and a classic example of how individual people play… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Kitty Genovese
A young woman who was infamously raped and murdered in 1970s New York City—and none of her observing neighbors tried to help her or even called the police. Genovese’s case has become synonymous with the supposed callousness of human nature, but this is a conclusion that Gladwell challenges.
Paul Revere
The famous American hero who allegedly rode across the state of Massachusetts in April of 1775 to warn his fellow citizens of the impending invasion of the British army (and, for Gladwell, a good example of how unique human beings can play a major role in starting social epidemics).
William Dawes
Little-known American who, like Paul Revere, rode across Massachusetts to warn people about the British invasion, but who lacked Revere’s impressive social skills.
Roger Horchow
Extraordinarily gregarious man who exemplifies the “Collector” personality type.
Lois Weisberg
The former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chicago, remarkable for the number of “connections” she developed with different sectors of Chicago city life, including business, music, government, and theater.
Rod Steiger
Famous Hollywood actor who, out of all actors in history, can be “linked” to any actor in the fewest number of steps.
Mark Alpert
A textbook example of Gladwell’s idea of a “market maven,” Alpert has spent the bulk of his life researching various prices, and loves to tell friends and associates about how to get the best deals.
Tom Gua
A successful, charismatic financial planner and a perfect example of the “Salesman” personality type.
Joan Cooney
An influential TV producer of the 1960s who proposed using the media to educate young children—an idea that resulted in the popular children’s show Sesame Street.
Lester Wunderman
Legendary market researcher who launched a highly successful ad campaign for the Columbia Record Club, the “Gold Box.”
Bernhard Goetz
New Yorker who shot four young black men at the height of the New York “crime wave” of the 1980s, and was later acquitted of the crime.
Rudolph Giuliani
Mayor of New York City during the 1990s, who enacted law enforcement policy based on the Broken Window Hypothesis and is often credited with “cleaning up” the city.
William Bratton
Head of the New York Police Department under Rudolph Giuliani, and another key supporter of the Broken Window Hypothesis.
Rebecca Wells
Successful author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Wilbert Gore
Founder of Gore Associates, one of the rare businesses to take full advantage of the organizational “rule of 150.”
Sima
Micronesian teenager who hanged himself out of frustration with his family.
R.
Micronesian teenager who hanged himself, contributing to the teen suicide epidemic.
Georgia Sadler
San Diego nurse who launched a social epidemic of breast cancer awareness by holding meetings in beauty salons.
Jimmy Carter
The 39th President of the United States.
Ronald Reagan
The 40th President of the United States.
Peter Jennings
An ABC newscaster whose facial cues may have subtly biased ABC viewers toward Ronald Reagan during the 1980 president election.