Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: What the Dog Saw

By Sandy Amazeen Nov 1, 2009, 5:53 GMT

Book Review: What the Dog Saw

What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard-but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century? In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping ...more

This delightful body of work represents thirteen years of Gladwell’s favorite articles published by the New Yorker. Divided into three categories including obsessive or minor geniuses, theories and the predictions each of us make about other people, these thought provoking, often fun pieces poke into areas most of us rarely think about. The topics include Ron Popeil’s rise to prominence as Ronco’s premiere pitchman for such products as the Veg-O-Matic food chopper and Showtime rotisserie. Then there’s the article regarding the parallels and differences in developing and marketing mustard and ketchup that may change your view of these humble condiments. Particularly interesting and telling is Gladwell’s examination of John Rock, inventor of oral contraception. The figures regarding current cancer rates and the average number of menstrual cycles a woman experiences in a lifetime are eye-opening as is Rock’s basis for deciding to make the Pill cause a 28 day cycle.

From the downfall of Enron to the Challenger disaster, the true cost of chronic homeless people to how an employer determines whom to hire, these fascinating, smoothly written commentaries are as illuminating as they are educational.

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