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Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
Written by: Malcolm Gladwell
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
4 out of 5 stars (415 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The highly anticipated new book from Malcom Gladwell, host of the chart-topping podcast Revisionist History

With original archival interviews and musical scoring, this enhanced audiobook edition of Talking to Strangers brings Gladwell’s renowned storytelling to life in his unparalleled narrating style.  

The routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy. The spy who spends years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The false conviction of Amanda Knox. Why do we so often get other people wrong? Why is it so hard to detect a lie, read a face or judge a stranger's motives?

Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings - from history, psychology and infamous legal cases - Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual adventure into the darker side of human nature, where strangers are never simple and misreading them can have disastrous consequences.

No one challenges our shared assumptions like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he uses stories of deceit and fatal errors to cast doubt on our strategies for dealing with the unknown, inviting us to rethink our thinking in these troubled times.

©2019 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2019 Malcolm Gladwell

Critic Reviews

"I love this book...reading it will actually change not just how you see strangers, but how you look at yourself, the news - the world. Reading this book changed me." (Oprah Winfrey)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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no connection between title and content

Why does an author have to mislead? he describes a series of high profile and controversial incidents and frauds and disasters and he tries to derive logic, when there is none. you may avoid.


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True to it's word

very well narrated. have been a fan girl of Mr. Gladwell.

very often we don't know how to talk to strangers and often take them for granted which created a ripple of effects.

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Wonderful

By far the best audio book I have heard. Loved the content, but also loved how the audio book was made- with the excerpts of the actual interviews of the people in the story.
The content itself is thought provoking. Dealing with strangers is an inescapable part of life, yet so few of us give it any real thought. We think we are pretty good at summing people up. Malcolm Gladwell shows us how how wrong we often are.

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More insights about understanding others

Started this booking thinking it has some tips and tricks about how to talk with strangers. But, then I realised that it is about more basic aspects about how we judge people, how we form our perception etc. Overall, it was a worth reading as it gives deeper insights in understanding others. Use of voices of actual characters made it feel close to reality. But I think it mainly revolves in U S. For outsiders sometimes difficult to connect. Overall, I would say a Good Read.

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One of the best audio books

Very thought provoking. MG is awesome as always. His own voice makes this audio book a perfect one.

7 people found this helpful

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Great storyline, nice narration...

Malcolm Gladwell's book "Talking to Strangers" is an interesting book (in addition to it being an author-narrated audiobook with real audio clippings wherever possible). He brings out some very interesting perspectives from diverse fields to emphasize that we don't really understand #strangers. And in those situations, we tend to what he calls as "default to truth" which could be based on one's prior social grooming or professional training, and unfortunately land ourselves in a mess.

While the book follows a central common theme and presents multiple eye-opening datapoints in its support, in my view it falls short of presenting a cohesive set of first principles, if you will, that could be the contribution to the field and some sort of theory to the practitioners. Notwithstanding this last point, it does a very good job of making us aware that despite all the advances in #crosscultural learning and #behavioral grooming, we still continue to be blissfully ignorant of how to deal with strangers, and conduct ourselves in uncharted waters? I think this is extremely important for success at work, and a key requirement for all, most definitely for #leaders.

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Absolute brilliance

The whole experience of listening to this book is extraordinary. The content itself is intriguing while narration and associating the realistic background narrative makes it all the more interesting and captivating

Malcom has always been brilliant while this audio book takes the journey to a different level

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Fantastic explanation

Book very nicely explains that how we often go wrong in our perception of the people and hence end up making wrong decisions. It covers a number of examples to convince the concept. However book has slight difference from its title. As title indicates that book will explain certain methods or approaches that will help us to know strangers but there is not much of that.


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A Podcast Quality Audiobook

Malcolm Gladwell brings the charm of his podcast, Revisionist History, to this wonderful book by letting us listen to audio clips of interviews, speeches and talks he has with the people that appear in this book. As a fan of his podcast, it was like listening to a 9 hour episode.

Observe as Gladwell giddily dives deep into the thing he does best - be a student of people. His keen observations, backed up with science are a fantastic way to gain insights into why humans are the wonderfully complex creatures we are.

A must listen

1 person found this helpful

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Nice experience

Excellent explanation about human behavior towards stranger.More insight into human tendency towards truth to default

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nick
  • 03-10-19

Not the most compelling MG book Ive read

I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell content fan. However, I have to say that I enjoyed this book the least out of all of the MG books I have read/listened to.

Positives:
I always appreciate Malcom narrating his own audio books - first class.

I was hugely excited by the novelty of including actual recordings in the book i.e. hearing quotes from the very sources themselves and making it into a kind of podcast on steriods. I think this was novel and a front runner of how future audio books of this nature will evolve. Full marks here.

I enjoyed the high pace and reporting style which the book follows, which aligns to previous MG book formula.

Thought provoking.

Negatives:
The subject and the stories while interesting did not make a convincing argument for me. In comparison to how compelling the subjects, theories and arguments in the stories of Blink, David and Goliath and Tipping Point were, this is not in the same league.

I found the argument tenuous at best. I think the stories were compelling because of their emotive and moral shock value, but the arguments put forward as to why these happened were not convincing ... they almost had a 'conspiracy theory' quality to them. I was hoping for more sources, better examples, less repetition on for example 'default to truth theory' and a clearer and more compelling link and argument. It was however, thought provoking which is I would imagine always an author's objective.

I still remain a fan, and continue to look forward to all of Malcolm Gladwell's content - one to mention, is that I am well into season 4 of Revisionist History and love the subject matter and format of these episodes.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-19

Disappointing

The book delivers none of Gladwell's usual magic of describing a handful of unexamined historical events, and rendering their connection visible in a way that brilliantly supports his thesis. Instead, he recites a string of anecdotes, only to give the most obvious of pronouncements with a self-congratulary smirk. We often get people wrong. We assume people tell the trust most of the time.

It is politically problematic to the point of needing a trigger warning. Brock Turner is said to have raped an unconscious girl due to inebriation. The catalyst for Sandra Bland's death was not police brutality, but a miscommunication.

I enjoyed a few of his other books far too much to be able to finish this one.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-09-19

Book version of Ira Glass's This American

Loved the way Mr. Gladwell brought relevant facts and stories pertaining to the Sandra Bland tragedy. He builds and pulls from Friends, Amanda Knox, and other bits to remind us of the danger of societal stereotypes and acceptance of simple explanations without digging deeper to understand people not like us. This is my favorite of all his books I have read to date.

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  • Hudson Alumera
  • 19-01-20

Beautiful enhanced audiobook

Great production. Amazing writing. It’s always great to hear the author. A brief on the motivation for writing the book or an author interview would really be helpful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-01-20

define stranger

While the book proposes interesting ideas and introduced me to some new tools to think with, it ultimately fails to be convincing in its arguments because of the author's failer to tell me who a stranger is.

At no point is 'stranger' defined. The author equating people who have known each other for years(see Cuban spys) to people who have known each other for minutes(see judges and defendents) as being all stranger to each other.

When is someone NOT a stranger?

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  • Shipra Dutta
  • 16-01-20

A revelation!!

How I did not understand what happened with me for so many decades! Malcolm Gladwell unraveled each move, blow by blow for me and helped me look ahead with great confidence! I am alive now!

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  • Ellis Barnsley
  • 14-01-20

a good book but

maybe listening to strangers would have been a better title. if you like MG you’ll like this book i’m sure.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-20

Slow start but amazing once you get into it

The actual book was very interesting bit definitely an incredibly slow start- i initially abandoned it and then went back and powered through the first few chapters and found I loved it!

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  • Dirk101
  • 26-12-19

Nothing New

Fantastic production. But viewed critically it is waste of time for someone who is well read. Your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Unless you are keen on understanding diversity better.

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  • collin govender
  • 22-12-19

Insightful and terrifying

Gladwell is at the top of my favorite author list and with talking to strangers he doesn’t disappoint. The texture that is added with the audio book with archived audio and the re-enactments leaves one with a richer experience. The key idea I am taking out of the book is that of coupling.
Amazing read/listen. You will not be disappointed.

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  • Philip O Mahoney
  • 11-10-19

Extra Long Revisionist History...

... but not in a bad way. Gladwell borrows heavily from his podcast in both production and story telling; breaking up the chapters into episodes that could stand alone. The thinking behind the piece, as usual, is extremely interesting and the individual stories are brilliantly fleshed out with actual audio which can break up the rare monotony in the narration.

The theme of the book is a worrying look at how we interact with strangers and our human shortcomings. The only issue I have with Gladwell highlighting each of our fallacies is that knowing about them doesn't seem to help navigate around them (see Kahneman on that).

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  • Olaf H
  • 29-09-19

Thought provoking in content, modern in form

Finally the audio book responds to the podcast format. Gladwell is in typically original form, applying overlooked historical research to contemporary ideas and issues. The book's main treatise, that a we live is a series of systems that are designed to function based on flawed ideas of human behaviour and interaction is well argued. It is the audio book's format, however, that makes this work easy to recommend over so many others. Presented more as an extended radio documentary or podcast, with recordings of interviews and a musical score, rather than adopting the dryer more typical style of audiobooks, the content of the book is offered in a form that allows it to be more engaging than any other audiobook in its category.

4 people found this helpful

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  • steve farmer
  • 11-09-19

Classic Gladwell please do not leave it another 6 years

So what can I say. Within the first few minutes I’m driving along with my jaw on the floor- oh my god! All my commutes have been reduced to minutes whilst Malcom takes me on a journey of enlightenment and discovery. Forget counting down the miles, I arrive home and sit on the drive not wanting to turn this off! I have waited so long for your new book and still you fail to disappoint. Simply brilliant !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

49 people found this helpful

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  • Jawad
  • 24-11-19

Promising start but failed to deliver

Promising start but failed to deliver on expectation as it was a montage of separate case studies but didnt see how they all merged to make up the story. Just different cases of talking to strangers with no real methods on really improving on this as such.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Dels
  • 02-10-19

Brilliant

A brilliant book or should I say production... the enhancement including audio files from court cases etc brought it to life! Malcom Gladwell as always presents a brilliant case!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Serban Dragne
  • 19-11-19

Meanders into nowhere

It starts off with a very interesting premise and chapter 3 is quite excellent but then i fee it goes off a full tangent and doesn’t ever recover where it was meant to be going. It’s as if he has all this material from the podcast and trying to string it together into a book but it’s so disjointed I lost all interest finishing it

15 people found this helpful

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  • papapownall
  • 08-10-19

Thought provoking stories about strangers

I have read a couple of Malcolm Gladwell's previous books and found them to be both entertaining and informative. Talking To Strangers is equally as good. We all think we are able to suss out strangers but what if they are lying to us? It seems we have an in built tendency to revert to truth i.e. believe them. Gladwell quotes some intriguing experiments including that of a computer programme that outperforms judges at predicting re-conviction rates based on raw data only, and Michael Levine's famous studies on observing and predicting cheats in a controlled experiment. These both demonstrate that humans are very poor indeed in assessing the intentions and trustworthiness of those they do not know and are too likely to rely on instinct regarding, for example, body language or stereotypes to make their assessments.
There are several high profile events that are considered through this book including the unfortunate case of Amanda Knox, the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Bernie Madoff fraud, Chamberlain's meetings with Hitler and even the US TV show Friends. The themes that emerge are consistent and that is that people are inherently willing to trust others and anticipate behaviour patterns and are surprised when the counterparty does not conform.
Like other works by Gladwell, this is thought provoking and intriguing and anyone reading (or listening) to this, will be quoting the stories for days. The Audible version of this book is excellent as it is read by Gladwell and has archive footages of some of the real events that are used for the base material of this book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Arvinder Dhesi
  • 09-10-19

More like a gripping documentary than an audiobook

Gladwell has an incredible ability of taking news stories we all kinda sorta remember but making you reexamine the "facts" as you thought you knew them..

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  • Mr Jason Freeborn
  • 22-09-19

Gladwell delivers a dark, yet moving work.

More of a radio documentary than a book, and probably all the better for it. Original audio and interviews with the people involved give greater depth to Gladwell's uniquely excellent storytelling. As you might expect, it all weaves together at the end.

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  • Egal
  • 16-10-19

Brilliant - Gladwell changes your mind, again

This non-fiction book has an arc and you need to listen it completely to fully understand the story. Gladwell's analysis never leaves out the other side of the story and once again exposes our human flaws in judgement. If you loved the Revisionist History podcast, this is for you. If you haven't - this is probably for you as well. Don't expect anything ordinary and sit it through to the end.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-10-19

A book with no ending...

Interesting enough stories, drawing together similar issues in differing situations... but almost 9 hours of audio book later, and you are left wondering what the point of it all was? I got to the end, hoping there was one more chapter of greater things to take away, but there was not.

'People are bad at judging others by how they outwardly display emotion. Please be careful when you interact with others as things are not always as you assume' seems the be the moral of the story, with a further 8 hours of book to prove this point. I just wish that there was more to take away than that simple statement.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-09-19

Please label the chapters

Considering the amount of work poured into this masterpiece, it’s quite disappointing to see that the chapters were not labelled at all.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Kate
  • 20-09-19

A good writer, but thin arguments

Gladwell usually boils things down really well but I think he's oversimplified some complex issues in his quest to make it all easy. I think he's straying into rape apologist territory at times; and was it really just misunderstanding that led an intensely corrupt and incompetent police investigation into Amanda Knox? Too easy I think.

7 people found this helpful

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  • JACQUES LE ROUX
  • 29-11-19

Best audio book I have listened to

Superb production & immensely thought provoking. The level of research and analysis presented is magnificent.

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  • Amy Benger
  • 28-10-19

lose the background music!

Great content but the music and sound effects playing in the background behind the narrative (especially the electronic bells) was really really annoying and distracting!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-09-19

What a production

Thanks for sharing your insights.
I throughly enjoyed the listen and I highly recommend everyone do the same.

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  • ads1212
  • 25-11-19

Lacks focus

I love Malcolm Gladwell – especially his revisionist history podcasts. However I wonder why he didn’t make this book’s chapters into separate podcasts because as a one book volume - this lacks focus and in the end, a general supposition of opinion. His book the tipping point for example allowed us to understand the very premise however talking to strangers doesn’t really inform us of anything that we don’t really know in fact this book simply contains chapters of various misaligned and maligned people and incidents that he, I think wrongly, puts down to some sort of “strangers” connection. Call me a cynic but I think Malcolm just wanted to make some money here and he should have done it as a series of podcasts if at all. This book makes very little headway into culture and society

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  • Davidb
  • 01-11-19

Best Audio book in a long, long time!!

Malcolm's story, delivery, voice, content, facts and production values made this my favourite audio book... ever!! Some other author/narrators should take a lead from Malcolm.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-09-19

Best audiobook ever

I would have found this book riviting anyway, but with all the brilliant production values of how podcasts, this book becomes utterly enthralling.

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  • Adam
  • 17-09-19

Another exceptional Gladwell book.

Talking to strangers is an interesting study of human nature, entertaining, thoughtful, in depth. A great read.

3 people found this helpful