In the newest of Malcolm Gladwell’s observations of modern day behavior, he explores why we so often misinterpret people we don’t know. His basic premise he names defaulted truth which, in essence, means that we form conclusions about strangers based on our own perceptions and experiences. The master of examples, Gladwell uses individuals such as, Sylvia Plath, Adolph Hitler, Bernie Madoff and Jerry Sandusky to illustrate his theories. His book begins and ends with Sandra Bland, the woman who was imprisoned in Texas for failing to use her turn signal and three days later committed suicide in her jail cell. In each of these cases and several more, Gladwell demonstrates how their outcomes would have been different if we talked and interpreted strangers in another way.
Talking to Strangers is typical Malcolm Gladwell – part history, part sociology and part psychology. His examples are clear-cut, well-explained and easy to understand.