Officer: Read This Book!

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know,” ought to be on every police officer’s reading list and a mandatory book for discussion in recruit school.

It’s a book about lies, misunderstandings and escalating confrontations; you know — police work!

“The threads that connect Gladwell’s somewhat rambling material have to do with misreading people — mistaking their intentions, drawing erroneous conclusions from their demeanors and believing their false claims of innocence…”

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Here is a piece from Anthony Gottlieb’s September10, 2019 review in The New York Times:

“Perhaps one shouldn’t always feel bad about getting someone utterly wrong. Sometimes one is bested by a master. In November 2004, I went to interview Bernard Madoff for The Economist and was won over. I told friends that I trusted this quiet, thoughtful man more than I trusted any of the dozen Wall Street loudmouths I’d talked to that year. It emerged in 2008 that he had been one of the biggest con men in history.

“Madoff is one of the central figures in “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know,” by Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist who turns social science reportage into best sellers. The book’s introduction and final chapter are about Sandra Bland, an African-American woman who was stopped by a white highway patrolman in small-town Texas in 2015 and was found hanged in her cell three days later. She had been arrested because her encounter with the patrolman escalated into a confrontation. Her death, Gladwell writes, “is what happens when a society does not know how to talk to strangers.”

“Among the other recent cases of true crime and true innocence Gladwell addresses are those of Jerry Sandusky, a college football coach and abuser of children, whose offenses, like those of Madoff, long escaped exposure; and Amanda Knox, an American student who spent nearly four years in Italian custody after a murder in Perugia because prosecutors mistook youthful American goofiness for guilt. We also read of Cuban double agents, exaggerated confessions under torture, Montezuma’s contact with the conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1519, misunderstandings between drunken students about sexual consent, and misguided British hopes in 1938 that Hitler could be appeased. And we are treated to lashings of nerdish criminological data.

“The threads that connect Gladwell’s somewhat rambling material have to do with misreading people — mistaking their intentions, drawing erroneous conclusions from their demeanors and believing their false claims of innocence…”

Read the full book review HERE.