Malcolm Gladwell

The dazzling slabs of journalism that comprise this anthology – a trophy cabinet from Gladwell’s past 14 years as a staff writer for The New Yorker – are largely concerned with the anatomy of human error.

His subjects are wilfully diverse, but in every case Gladwell’s target is the rampant assumptions that blind us to the true story: the lapse in evolutionary perspective that tricks us into viewing women’s monthly menstrual cycle as ‘natural’, and the complacency that stops us seeing that complex systems such as space shuttles and stock markets must always, at some point, crash.

The fact that in the book, Gladwell refers to Myra Hindley and Ian Brady as the ‘Yorkshire killers’ (they are in fact known as the Moors Murderers) is a brilliant, if inadvertent, way for Gladwell to prove his point. Still, no one breathes life into behavioural psychology like Gladwell – and as these essays amply display, he’s the closest thing the social sciences have to a raconteur.