David and Goliath Book Review

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell challenges the idea that apparent weaknesses are significant disadvantages to overcoming tremendous odds; conversely, these deficiencies may become someone’s most important strengths.

Historical references where the underdog seems outmatched line the pages of this book, including the civil rights movement, policing, and even basketball. Each example shows how misfits can turn the tide decisively in their favor by leaning on their perceived weaknesses to garner strength and will to win.

You’ll see book details, an overview of the book, and then some key takeaways in this review.

Book Details

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Book Length

  • Hardcover: 528pgs
  • Audiobook: 7hrs 1min
  • Ebook: 322pgs

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell



David and Goliath comes with an introduction and three parts:

A different perspective about the David and Goliath story. 

Part I: The Advantages of Disadvantages and the Disadvantages of Advantages

Part II: The Theory of Desirable Difficulty

Part III: The Limits of Power

The introduction presented the book’s thesis that a perceived weakness can be the greatest strength in overcoming an obstacle or challenge. The David and Goliath story from 1 Samual 17 in the Bible was foundational to that idea. Usually, when faced with insurmountable odds, the saying goes that it’s like David versus Goliath. However, the book offers that David was the one who had the advantage over Goliath despite the apparent stature and weapon differences.

The book suggests that slowness, poor eyesight, and heavy armor led to Goliath’s downfall. Because of those weaknesses, David could take advantage to slay Goliath with a flick of his sling, out-maneuvering his opponent. 

Following the introduction, the book dives into a leukemia doctor’s troubled childhood and how that helped him to treat his patients. Next, it showed how a basketball coach with minimal experience coached his disadvantaged team to full-court press every team they played, resulting in beating the most competitive teams in their region.

The book discussed how the civil rights movement spurred by Martin Luther King turned into a public relations challenge for authorities at the time. Pictures of dogs biting children during peaceful protests became a powerful example of turning the tables against those fighting to maintain the status quo.

Buy David and Goliath

Key Takeaways

David and Goliath sought to branch out of traditional literature where the little guy gets a once-over on the big guy. There were several examples where seemingly over-challenging obstacles would prevent progress but made it through somehow. This begs the question: how commonly do these disadvantaged people ‘make it?’ The stories were exciting, with Robinhoodesque examples that supported the book’s thesis.

Next, each chapter dove into a different part of how resilient people can be. I equate it to David Goggin’s book Can’t Hurt Me because he was also one of these people. Each part encompassed tangible experiences the reader could follow and learn from.

My biggest takeaway from David and Goliath was that people are more resilient than we think. The things that hold us back may be what we need to spring forward into success. Examples like the civil rights movement, basketball, and leukemia had a connection in a proverbial way.


Overall, this was a fun read. It helped me see another side of the disadvantages and weaknesses we have. The audience may relate to a book like David and Goliath because everyone has defects they may not know how to handle. Instead of fighting it, perhaps it’s time to use it to your benefit.

Have you read David and Goliath? Let me know what you think below.

Click here if you want to purchase David and Goliath.

Thanks for reading!



2 thoughts on “David and Goliath Book Review”

  1. Thank you for the excellent review of Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath Robert, I appreciate your insights into this converse idea of advantage being a disadvantage and weaknesses being our strength. I know this will be helpful to many who struggle with finding the proper motivation to achieve all they should out of their circumstances.

    This seems to be a direct parallel to the Biblical narrative, where we get the story of David and Goliath to begin with. The Bible teaches that the meek will inherent the earth. That he who would save his life will lose it but he who would lose it for the sake of the Gospel will save it.

    1. Joseph,

      It’s difficult to see weaknesses as strengths sometimes. I enjoyed the book’s different perspective. I hope you enjoy it too! Thank you for your comment.


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