Top critical review
Sadly, Gladwell places his foot in his mouth...
Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2019
Wow, does this book ever suffer from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease!
I almost didn’t make it past the introduction. In my pre-publication copy, Gladwell writes, “The Sandra Bland case came in the middle of a strange interlude in American public life” and then goes on to discuss a series of cases of police violence against black people that happened around 2014.
“Strange interlude.” Really?
That phrasing suggests that this treatment was some sort of aberration in American history and that the violence only happened during the few years he references. Did Gladwell really mean to ignore America’s long history of this problem?
I don’t think so? I think he may have meant that the attention paid to police violence was unusual, but dude, choose your words much more carefully.
Later on, there are some good points made about how and why we tend to misunderstand each other.
But, again, I almost put the book down, this time while reading the chapter on the Brock Turner sexual assault case. Without going into detail, that chapter could only have been written by someone who's buried his head in the sand over the past five years or so.
It’s tough to ignore the problematic elements of Talking to Strangers. I could definitely see the discussion of the causes of sexual assault offending some readers to the point that they abandon the book altogether. I’ve definitely enjoyed other books by the author a lot more than this one. Two stars.
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for giving me a DRC of this book.