Magazine December 31, 2013, Issue

The Rules of the Game

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 320 pp., $29)

Malcolm Gladwell has had quite a different career than might be expected from a mathematician’s son who grew up mainly in a Canadian Mennonite community. For at least a decade, he has been America’s most popular social-science journalist. His fifth book, however, ventures much farther than his previous ones into political, historical, and religious matters, in its exploration of the meaning of the Biblical story of David’s triumph over the Philistine champion. This venture proves a distinct problem.

The dominance of the social sciences in our thinking is too great, if you ask me; we’re too used to being told where

Sarah Ruden’s most recent books are the extensively revised second edition of her Aeneid translation and her new translation of the Gospels.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Generation Gaps

A couple of times while writing this review I almost typed “Bill Clinton” instead of “Pat Conroy.” That’s not surprising. The former president and the bestselling novelist who wrote The ...
Politics & Policy

Broken Heartland

I was not entirely looking forward to Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, mostly because I worried that the movie, about an old man taking stock of his life on a Plains-state road ...
Politics & Policy

Built to Last

Has the Founders’ revival peaked? The big bios of the big names, now in big paperback editions, still sit on bookstore shelves, like Pleistocene megafauna, yet the subject stimulates feelings ...

Sections

Athwart

The New Inequality

For about 47 minutes the president successfully moved the conversation to income inequality, the very existence of which proves that the fundamental transformation of America into a grey smear of ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

PICTURESQUE Rising ambitiously, they set a goal Of smoking out the red, reluctant sun, Which smolders like some just-embarrassed coal. Whatever looks to start has not begun, But still the clouds’ bombastic undersides – All glowing ...
Happy Warrior

Heading South

Whether or not Nelson Mandela was emblematic of the new South Africa, his memorial service certainly was. Thamsanqa Jantjie, the lovable laugh-a-minute sign-language fraud who stood alongside President Obama gesticulating ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

Appalachian Immigration Reading Kevin D. Williamson’s article (“Left Behind,” December 16) reminded me of my experience working with urbanized Appalachians in the Indianapolis neighborhood known as Stringtown back in the early ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Maybe Kim Jong Un’s uncle tried to talk to him about Obamacare over Thanksgiving. ‐ Supporters of Obamacare decided to start saying that the website is now basically working, never ...

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