Review: What the Dog Saw

OK I’m a little late to the party on this best-seller by Malcom Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers.  It’s already in soft-cover and still on the top sales lists. 

What the Dog Saw is a collection of some of Gladwell’s favourite articles from The New Yorker where he has been a staff writer for 15 years.  His investigative skills are legendary.  His unique take on widely accepted beliefs is what makes him so amazing.  It would be easy to say that the Challenger explosion of 1986 won’t be the last major shuttle accident but Gladwell backs up the opinion with hard and fascinating facts about the work culture at NASA.  He pokes holes the size of pancakes in the FBI’s practise of criminal profiling.  The collection is hard to put down.  It’s the best type of learning; you’re so entertained that you almost forget your brain is being fed.

The inventor of the Pill’s epic and ethical struggle to have his birth control method accepted by the Catholic Church is presented here in a fresh way.  Gladwell takes us into the NFL and shows us why so many college football stars fizzle out once they’re in the big leagues.  He demistifies the processes of developing first impressions and evaluating talent. 

And what did the dog see?  Millions of Cesar Millan’s fans watch him make an obedient puppy out of a vicious brute on The Dog Whisperer but it all looks like hocus pocus to the lay person.  Gladwell explores Millan’s methods from the dog’s point of view.   He ends his book with the collection’s other dog tale, about one of my favourite dumb pieces of legislation.  Yes, former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant’s pitbull ban gets the Gladwell treatment and he explains in a way I could only dream of doing, why it’s a useless soother for a much wider problem of bad owners and other factors.  What the Dog Saw stretches your brain a little as you compulsively turn the pages.

What the Dog Saw may make you rethink some of your opinions