Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw
A collection of some of Gladwell’s most thought-provoking essays
Too early for a best-of? No, Malcolm Gladwell’s been cranking out hits at the New Yorker. The 19 essays in What the Dog Saw serve up the author’s notoriously serpentine intellectual adventures in smaller, more digestible bites. Gladwell’s skill for intertwining seemingly unrelated subjects — and for re-casting disparate stories as parallel lines — is sublime. A bit about Enron leads us to prostate cancer, followed soon by the War on Terror. We go from 9/11 to Nixon to WWII to a 1970s psych experiment to the Bay of Pigs. It’s a fun ride, too, because Gladwell’s not just stringing you along. He illustrates the difference between panicking and choking by reenacting JFK Jr.’s final flight. He finds out why there are all kinds of mustard flavors but ketchup is just ketchup. He explains how U.S. intelligence agencies rewrite their philosophies with each major screw-up. He makes you give a crap about the Dog Whisperer and respect Ron Popeill. Magic.