Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson
shkarlson
50bookchallenge

NO SECRETS TO SUCCESS.

Book Review No. 14 features Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success. The content is either mundane enough, or tamed enough, to show readers whatever they wish to see. Advocates of the fair go will see the accumulation of small advantages by people already advantaged in the emergence of the current crop of personal computer millionaires (many of whom were born about the same time I was, in neighborhoods that valued intellectual life, with sufficient disposable income to be able to put in thousands of hours programming while their less fortunate contemporaries were throwing newspapers or tending crops) as entranching existing hierarchies. On the other hand, advocates of libertarian social orders will point to the concentration of commercial fortunes established by U.S. capitalists in the 1870s and 1880s as the outcome of a relatively laissez-faire environment subsequently hamstrung by antitrust laws and fiat money.

One message that does stand out, leaving aside the Big Policy Things, is the importance of an environment that does not punish achievement (more Vulcan nurturing and less Romulan yobbishness?) Mr Gladwell correctly notes that nobody succeeds alone, everyone relies on the support of others. I leave to the reader as an exercise the origins of the maxims "Why should we plant, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?" and "If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it" and "No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich" and "God helps Thofe Who help Themfelves" and the prosperity, or lack thereof, that accompanies those maxims.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
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