top of page

Book review: What the dog saw – and other adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

If you’re like me, when you first saw that book cover, you thought “What the ‘bloomin eck’ is that about?”

I’ll get to the book in a sec, firstly however, I have something to admit. I am a fan of Malcolm Gladwell, there I said it – if I saw him out and about, I’d have to shake his hand like a ‘wobbly-kneed’ groupie. Ever since Outliers: The story of Success I’ve had to read his other books, I will write a review on each of them at some point. It took me a while to get around to reading (and finishing) What the Dog Saw – and other adventures as work has been very hectic over the past 6-8 months, hence the lack of consistent posts.

However, I had a short break and managed to finish it :D, I chose to read this book as it was the only one by Malcolm that I had not read (as far as I am aware).

I’ll start with the title, very misleading! I remember being so confused when seeing it the first time, as you may have been seeing the cover. Ironically, that is the very concept which the book is all about, finding out more about a subject rather than taking it for face value.

I’ve found that this is a lot of what Malcolm is all about; delving deeper to find the real reason as to why, asking the people who know more than what is the general consensus on the subject and using other resources to form a subject and story moral.

Part one titled ‘Obsessives, Pioneers, and other forms of minor genius’ covers chapters on why certain famous and succesful individuals succeeded in their areas of expertise. I love these stories, Malcolm covers them so well, they leave you wanting more. As if you are finding out hidden secrets one after the other, they leave you feeling like you understand the world a little better with each chapter. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Cesar Millan, I have always liked dogs and he brilliant to watch on TV but I did not realise just how unique of a human being he is!

Part two titled ‘Theories, Predictions and Diagnoses’ covered some topics which I found fascinating due to my working in the healthcare profession. These chapters were more about events in life, how some are controllable and others are completely out of your hands. The chapters that covered the Contraceptive pill and Mammography really hit home, I loved learning the less than straightforward history behind these medical interventions.

Part three titled ‘Personality, Character and Intelligence’ provides stories which challenge the misconceptions we have regarding a variety of areas in life. From misconceived criminal profiling techniques to challenging whether smart people should always be the preferred option for employment. Interesting to read in one chapter how Pitbulls really have been given a hard time and that other ‘softer’ breeds are not so innocent sometimes, all depending on how they are cared for.

When comparing this book to his others, I would say it is pretty much middle of the road. ‘Outliers: The story of success’ was the first of Malcolm Gladwell’s books that I read and it is hard to beat that book. I found What the dog saw to be ‘more of the same’, if you love his other books (which I do) then you will enjoy this read. I had a few minor ‘wow!’ moments but not like the type I was getting with Outliers. All said and done, this book is still a good 7/10 in my opinion.


bottom of page