“What The Dog Saw” is full of interesting topics, mostly in social sciences, written with brevity, joy and wit that guarantees you not to raise a yawn and, even, to hold your urinary bladder. Recently, I have been craving for essays and, as I was walking in our school library’s aisle, I came across with Malcolm Gladwell, an intellectual man whose works have consistently appeared in “The New Yorker”. I thought essays have to be dull, boring and colorless for it to be an essay, at least that is what school teaches us, but as Gladwell shows us, that is not at all necessary. He gives us a compelling, down-to-earth stories. Stories that would have been rotten if it weren’t for Gladwell’s attempt to write about it.
This book, Gladwell’s fourth one, is an anthology of his selected essays. He talks about the dominant presence of Heinz ketchup, the inventor of the contraceptive pill, the legendary dog-whisperer Cesar Millan, the famous serial killers like Ted Bundy, just to name a few. After reading the book, I felt rich receiving a swimming pool of information. As an accounting student, I consider the “Open Secrets” a treat. It talks about accounting ethics and the “peril of too much information”, well it talks about the giant company Enron. Gladwell reveals to us how Enron manages to survive their debt for long and as his later essay “Talent Myth”, he shows us that despite the Enron’s employee star system, of being innovative and pushing the limits, it still manages to fail. “It never occurred to them,” Gladwell later writes, “that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing”.
His essays yank us from passive mode to an active one and you find yourself searching for facts if these things might actually be true. I didn’t search for authenticity because I’m convince when the book notes “every one of these stories was rigorously perfected by the copy and fact-checking departments of The New Yorker magazine”.
Gladwell lets us to think for ourselves and encourages us to challenge the current view, to be skeptic, he might as well challenge us for his views, which makes the book altogether fun. At some point, I was having a mental debate with Gladwell when I refuse to acknowledge his differentiation of “choking” and “panicking”. As for me both are different levels of panicking.
Did I mention that this book is as compelling as your favorite fiction book? Though it doesn’t read like one, “What The Dog Saw” delights you from its diction and well-structured sentence. A good way to spend your afternoon.