Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

Unabridged Audiobook

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Book Rating (1038)

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Written By: Malcolm Gladwell

Narrated By: Malcolm Gladwell

Date: September 2019

Duration: 8 hours 57 minutes


A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Pres
Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers -- and why they often go wrong.
How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn't true?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed--scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There's even a theme song - Janelle Monae's 'Hell You Talmbout.'
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.


  • John W.

    My review is somewhat mixed. The production of the material was outstanding!. Using real-life audio and reenacting other scenes added immeasurably to the presentation of the material. The music was another story: whether or not it was Gladwell's intention to promote a liberal story line, the music did that, especially the repeated screams of "Say his name!" after shouting a name of a supposed "victim" such as Michael Brown or Freddie Gray. I live in a Baltimore suburb and have an entirely different view of Gray: he was a career criminal whose ultimately fatal injuries were at least in part self-induced. He was canonized by local thugs and sycophantic politicians, including a mayor who saw her political career go up in the smoke of the fires and riots that followed. Gray is no one to celebrate. Additionally, while the information was well-researched and reported, there seemed to be no real conclusions reached, no resolution, no strategies to address the problems Gladwell so clearly articulated. As a result, I found the book somewhat incomplete.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful.

  • Pete A.

    Positives: The production value was tremendous. Using the audio/film clips and having actors read transcripts for other studies/testimony really helps paint an audio picture. It provides a fullsome/podcast-y listening experience that is easy to consume. Gladwell is a good narrator. The book is interesting and thought provoking and he does a good job of contextualizing things, by applying his thoughts to cases/scenarios you may be aware of. Negatives: I don't really know what the point was. This isn't a book about teaching you strategies for talking to strangers. Some of the ideas in it feel was an interesting journey but I don't know if I ever arrived at the destination. There didn't seem to be any real conclusion - which may have been the point. I'm planning on listening to it again to see if there's something I missed. Though, John W. seems to have the same 'incomplete' feeling that I did.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful.

  • Corey O.

    Another brilliant and inquiring experience from our/my favorite author. I would recommend this audiobook to everyone! And to learn how to be polite to everyone you meet, because most of the book slams into your head the message: People are judgemental and can't understand new ideas, things, or people that are different. In all seriousness though: 1. I found the "High quality Podcast" style very entertaining and appreciate the slow emergence of audiobooks adapting pieces of modern style 'Productions'. 2. Most of the parts were very entertaining and educational, but I did feel like the overall message was rather..... childish? Like.... other than the statistics and names of researchers, nothing that was "taught to me" seemed new to me. The decades of research and years of experience all lead to the point of: Don't be rude, be understanding, and trust others till they prove that point wrong. 'Put simply': Treat others like you want to be treated. that thing anyone in grade school, Sunday school, or with decent parents were told. 3. I am glad I didn't spend money on this and it was part of a Christmas special credit program, because I would rather go and listen to a season of a proper, free high quality Podcast then spend money on a 8 1/2 hour "new and special audiobook"

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful.

  • Carmen Victoria U.

    A must read. Malcom Gladwell as always has blown my mind, shifted my perspective, made me question the status quo, made me think, and made me more humble. This book made me cry, made me shiver, made me get tremendously mad at the injustices, made me feel scared... As I have an autistic child, I know he is at a higher risk of being treated unjustly, I am afraid for him, for the world may see him as mismatched. Hope everyone get the message that mismatched people are normal, natural, innocent. This book has been very important for me and my life. Thank you Malcom Gladwell and team. Hugs.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • I kunt reed

    A well researched and interesting compilation. Though the author seems to think that only the police need to be cordial, and all others can do as they please. There are also a few moments where the author of this audiobook praises career criminals by using a clip of radicals chanting the names of those criminals who were rightfully terminated by police during violent encounters. Gladwell is great at throwing together stories and doing the research, but his personal bias for criminals destroys his conclusions.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Tom R.

    Good listen

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Jimmy N.

    Great read and as only Malcom can do he pulls you into each story and makes you understand it from both sides. Great read.

  • Su T.

    The quality of contents is not satisfying. The title looks attractive though. I didn’t learn anything about talking to strangers. The summary is all about Don’t trust people!

  • Anonymous

    I loved it. This is why reviews are not always trustworthy. Saw some really negative reviews. So thankful I took the chance. It was amazing, about half way through I had some inclination of where it was heading, but it was still a frightening gut punch. This is my first Malcolm Gladwell book. Now, I was all his work. A masterpiece

  • Anonymous

    Great listen, very interesting insights. Ending is kind of hard to decipher. We live in a society that loves to place blame but the ending leaves me wondering where the author finds the blame. Great listen!

  • John H.

    Worst book he has written and I’ve read them all and am generally a fan. Many of these conclusions are opposite of his book ‘Blink’

  • Penny W.

    Wow, oh, wow! What a fabulous audiobook! A must-listen! A brilliant storytelling adventure on the intricacies of communication. How communication breaks down. How we will tend to believe what someone says is true. The book starts out using the example of communication breakdown and emotional escalation that occurred when Sandra Bland was pulled over for a traffic violation that escalated to her arrest and then death in Texas jail cell. Malcolm then discusses other times when communication had conflicting messages. Adolph Hitler and British Prime Minister Chamberlain and an interrogation of an alleged Cuban spy, among other stories. Nonfiction can tend to boring but listen to this audiobook. You will be glued to your ear pods!

  • Anonymous

    Awful book, and his conclusions are weak. He's really gone downhill since blink and tipping point.

  • Michael S.

    Gladwell has done better...

  • Laura L.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  • Donald M.

    Always insightful and fascinating case studies by Gladwell.

  • Dame C.

    I loved this book! So thoughtful, informative and in depth.

  • Anonymous

    Always love Malcolms reviews and opinions. Sad book but eye opening

  • Christopher S.

    I no social justice warrior, but this book got to me. He did such a great job providing both sides of the story and some pretty startling points. I enjoyed it.

  • Rachel M.

    Excellent insight with great historical content. Nice to listen to actual audio when applicable. This book will have me thinking, would have like to learn more about strategies to talk to strangers. Highly recommend

  • Paula E.

    I found this to be tedious and without any definition

  • Terri D.

    I don’t think I even got to the end of chapter one before I fell asleep. I found this books content okay but the reading was very dry and boring. I don’t think I could carry on without sleeping all the way through the book.

  • Keith A.

    If you are listening to this book to learn how to better talk to people in your life, this will be a waste of time. These are stories that explain the difficulty we experience when interacting with strangers in unique circumstances. As a fan of Malcolm Gladwell I enjoyed it. The background music was slightly distracting though.

  • Ninja001

    Malcolm Gladwell done it again. The way he analyzed and elaborate human interaction is just enjoyable to listen and learn. I enjoy thoroughly.

  • Natosha D.

    This was a phenomenal listen! It was like an extended version of his podcast- actual interviews, court clips, etc. Each of the cases examined were extremely interesting and Malcolm’s narration was engaging. I definitely recommend it.

  • Candy K.

    great read!

  • Justin W.

    Malcolm Gladwell is as good here as ever.

  • Anonymous

    Useless book laced with frequent foul language. Thought I'd learn how to be a better communicator but no, this book circles interminably around the pointless point that people are bad at communicating.

  • Martha C.

    I listened to MG's book on my commute from Santa Fe NM to Pojoaque where I work at San Ildefonso Pueblo. Malcolm's examples of situations were difficult to hear but effective in supporting his hypothesis and necessary to demonstrate the personal violation of the victims. Coupling is an interesting platform to view human interactions with the world and with other humans. I think that a large part of what I enjoy about Gladwell is his narration.

  • Brian L.

    An amazing audio experience, not just a narration.

  • Lisa K.

    I think Malcolm Gladwell has provided truth into the way we judge strangers, make decisions and act the way we do. In addition, I think the discussion about our young people and their drinking was an eye opener ! Very thought provoking. This book is a game changer. This is a must read.

  • Keith C.

    Great listen

  • Kimetha W.

    I am still listening, but there is a lot of history and it’s interesting how it seems hard to know who to trust.

  • Ilona S.

    Enjoyed the mix of author reading and interviews

  • Janice L.

    This is the best non fiction audio book I’ve ever heard.

  • Paul P.

    I enjoyed it. The title is a bit misleading, but the content is great, and hearing Gladwell read it, made it even better. He definitely does his research, and presents it clearly and effectively. Timely topic and issues that we still need to discuss.

  • Michael S.

    what a great narration as well as the whole story line.

  • Bruce G.

    Excellent production with incredible primary research that includes original audio of historical events. Gladwell does a masterful job challenging preconceived notions. It would be nice to conclude it with some proscriptions of how to avoid repeating these mistakes, but the book is a 5 star listen / read nonetheless!

  • Damien DAMBRE

    A very interesting way of talking about human relations. And I must say this audio book brings this relatively new art to a new level : there is more than one voice on this one, and that makes it so much more alive! I really loved it. I wish you a good listening.

  • Maria B.

    This book analyses human interactions and draws valid rationals that explain why talking to strangers is challenging. The quality of the research illustrates Empathy

  • Santos C.

    Best storyteller... This book does not disappoint Gladwell fans or for first-timers its Gladwell at his best.

  • Brian K.

    I give this book 3.5/5 stars. PROS: excellent production quality. It flys by like a good episode of This American Life or Invisibilia. I wish all audio books had this level of flair. I hadnt really thought about the concept of Coupling, which is very interesting. CONS: For all its intensity, it was not particularly illuminating or revelatory— ‘be careful when talking to strangers’ kidding. I also felt like he was bending hugely complicated human conflicts to fit his theories that in truth aren”t so cut and dry. For example, Gladwell doesnt even begin to consider that Officer Encinia’s obvious racism was also a factor in Bland’d mistreatment beyond simplying misunderstanding her behavior. And what about other people besides Chamberlain who met Hitler in person but werent fooled by his friendly and cooperative manners? Conclusion: Thought provoking and enjoyable (if all the super bleak stories doesnt depress you) but don’t expect any answers or resolutions. it all just hangs in the air like the smoke after a fireworks show.

  • Monica D.

    Fascinating book and I loved the podcast like presentation. Just finished and I am listening again.

  • Cristobal C.

    Don´t miss understand my rating. I had a different expectation that’s it. The book is great, the topic is excellent and the narrative flaw less. So why a 4 star review and not a 5? My expectation was to have a cheerful book, I listen to Gladwell’s podcast and I end my listening with a smile on my mind. Some chapters of this book where to obscure, left me wondering and reflecting but with a blue mood. So, if you expect a joyful book this is not it. Never than less is an excellent book. I will continue buying audio books and consuming Podcast from Gladwell in the future!

  • Kumar K.

    Great book, top class narration.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

by Malcolm Gladwell

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Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know, Malcolm Gladwell
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This title is due for release on September 10, 2019.

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This title is due for release on September 10, 2019
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