Cover via AmazonI listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking as an audio book early on in my iPod experience. I enjoyed it and thought Gladwell had some good insights and he is an engaging writer.
His current book, Outliers, appears to be heading him toward another best-seller and I’m always vicariously pleased (and envious) to see a writer make a living with his craft. Here’s a favorable review.
His unfortunate topic for one chapter in his book on the secret of success (or not): mountain folk. So give the book reviews a long look if you’re thinking of giving this tome as a gift to anyone in Harlan Kentucky–a locality that gets special attention for a chapter in the book that seems particularly objectionable to some.
One Richmond reviewer ends his negative praise of Gladwell’s latest with these words:
I would like to see Gladwell test his theory about Southerners being more prone to violence than Northerners. A good way to do it would be for Gladwell walk the streets at midnight in urban areas that have the same economic and unemployment challenges that Harlan does.
If he survives, I invite Mr. Gladwell to come to Harlan, do some readings of his book and have a heaping helping of their hospitality.
Hillbilly that is. Set a spell. Take your shoes off. You all come back now, you hear.
I liked Blink, but in the end I thought it was more a collection of anecdote than a book of substance. I’ve not felt compelled to pick up any more of his books.
I was recently reminded of a piece of research I read in college where a test subject was insulted by an experiment confederate (disguised as a random person sitting in a hall). Southerners were disproportionately likely to see it as an affront to their honor and become aggressive and/or violent. That said, I think we Southerns get seriously short shrift. I recently had a Yankee grill me on how I could possibly love the South to which I gave a long, rambling answer. But what would have probably been a better response would have been, “Why don’t you stay a while and you’ll find out real soon…”
I remember reading a Rick Bragg book (I think it was “All Over But the Shouting”) in which he described what would cure the rudeness he encountered in New York City. If memory serves, his opinion was that if people knew that a physical confrontation was likely for being verbally abusive to someone, New Yorkers would be less rude. Bragg also wrote about how in his native Alabama not being to read was fairly common, but a man who refused to fight when insulted was viewed as pathetic.
I don’t think Southerners are more prone to violence unless it is instigated. I haven’t been in a fight in my adult life (all in the South), but I’m a nice guy and treat people with respect.
Okay, that’s just funny – a lot of feather displaying if they’re sure it’ll end at that? I’ve lived in the South since birth and have had a lot of experience with the positive stereotypes about the South and very little experience with the negative stereotypes.
I’ve also spent a fair amount of time in the North, particularly Philadelphia and Manhattan where I inevitably anger people by holding doors, smiling, chatting… Maybe it’s a Northern thing or maybe just a big city thing?