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Malcolm Gladwell


gladwell_hpthumbMalcolm Gladwell is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference” (2000), “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking” (2005), “Outliers: The Story of Success” (2008) and, his most recent work, “What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures” (2009). Born in England and raised in Canada, Gladwell came to the U.S. after receiving his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, Trinity College. From 1987 to 1996, he worked as a reporter, covering business and science for the Washington Post, and was then appointed as the newspaper’s New York City bureau chief. Since 1996, Malcolm has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine. In 1999, his profile of Ron Popeil won a National Magazine Award, and, in 2005, Gladwell was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”

Malcolm’s family tree includes ancestors of West Indian, English, Jewish, Irish and Scottish heritage. He is the son of a white English father and Jamaican mother. At the time of his parents’ wedding, interracial marriage was still illegal in some American states, but not in rural Ontario, where the family made their home. An elusive European ancestor of Malcolm’s arrived in Jamaica as early as the mid-17th century and started a long line of privileged mixed-race Jamaicans, the Fords. On his paternal side, Gladwell’s great-great grandparents Thomas Adams and Jane Wilson left England and Ireland, respectively, to take part in the Castlemaine gold rush in Victoria, Australia in the 1850s.

  • Ellen Robert

    We don’t have nearly enough public intellectuals today, but Malcolm Gladwell certainly is one of the finest. The fact that at one time he had 3 books simultaneously on the New York Times best seller lists gives me hope. We can still appreciate brilliant writing and incisive, original thinking. We’ve not all been reduced to sound bytes and ranting. I teach sociology and frequently assign one of his essays. At the end of the quarter, it is always Gladwell’s ideas to which students return. It was such a pleasure to hear his thoughtful responses to Prof. Gates’ questions. As in his essays, he takes his time and gives a subject its due. Thank you, Mr. Gladwell

  • Alex Ferrar

    Malcolm Gladwell is the most insightful writer I’ve encountered, and I am richer for having read his books and essays. We are often told to think for ourselves, but for those of us who need to be led, no one else tell us HOW. Nothing has opened my eyes to anything the way he has. Since reading his three books and applying the knowledge imparted, I have become a successful restauranteur and art gallery owner, and I eagerly await the next batch of instructions.

  • RavenMaven

    Who are you to tell someone who they should and shouldn’t identify with? If you want to identify primarily with your white side (judging by many of your asinine commentaries), then that’s you. You are nothing but the equivalent of the repulsive, self-hating CONservative Ward Connerly. Pathetic.

  • Rob

    Aaaaghhh wtf I am baffled by how American can be suckered by Ottawa Valley Twang accented Canadians

    Marshall McLuhan
    Malcolm Gladwell

    dammit I gotta move south , get a green card and start printing money

  • Frances

    While I admire and love Malcolm Gladwell’s intellect and writing, I too questioned his being profiled in this series, since he’s Canadian and the title of the series is “Faces of America.” However, I find his family history fascinating and wish they would have featured more of it. He was barely in the first 3 installments.

  • MJ

    Malcolm I heard about you from your aunt. I read your mom’s memoir, but I have never
    read your books, now I am ready to start.
    I must say you look liked you needed a dip “inna some fresh Jamaican riva wata ” to revive you but you were still brilliant.

  • Shanel

    It’s pretty obvious what “America” refers to in the title. If they meant the continents I’m sure it would have been “Faces of the Americas”.

  • Ann MJ

    My friends told me about this show because I am trying to trace my ancestors. I just watched it. Malcolm – I wonder if we are related!!! I was born in England, my father was born in St. Eliz, JA and his grand parents and cousins are “Nations”!! Interesting! I would love to see your family tree!

  • A.D. Powell

    You’re projecting your own sins. YOUR “race” is the one constantly claiming people who don’t belong to it in order to practice “ethnic rape” (You boast that you will force yourselves on the Anatole Broyards of the world in order to claim their accomplishments and “superior” DNA. Get over your inferiority complex. YOU are “self-hating” and jealous because you don’t believe in yourselves and want “white blood” to represent you. You wanted Anatole Broyard and others to hate his European ancestry and identify with YOU in order to make you look better than you are.

    Why don’t you characters try claiming the Hispanics, since they are nearly all at least “tarbrushed” or worse? But that would take some courage, so you will show respect by not even mentioning the fact. All non-Hispanic mixed-whites and mulattoes should know that claiming white ancestry is self-love and identifying with blacks is self-hatred.

  • Patrick

    While I agree broadly that people in the Americas do have a common bond, people from these other nations do not self-identify as “American.” If you ask a Canadian, Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian, etc. to define themselves I highly doubt you will hear the word American. However, if you ask someone from the United States it would likely be one of the first words you hear, even if connected with a different ethnic group (i.e. Mexican-American, Italian-American, etc.). Obviously it is an issue of semantics, but if we are talking about American faces (or American politics, American literature, etc.) we are not talking about Canadians, Mexicans, or Chileans.

  • black irish

    It fascinates me that our history can find a positive way to define us; I grow up in Jamaica with two wonderful parents my brothers and sisters, my parents thought us to accept ourselves and embrace our heritage. These words only came into perspective when I relocated to Europe. I left a predominantly black multicultural society majority from African descendants. I found myself in a country predominantly white where I was seen as an ethic minority and where the word racism became a new word expressed with negative actions and connotations. At first I could not understand this word racism it never existed in Jamaica although my friend and family were of white, Indian, black and Chinese background we embraced the national motto ‘out of many one people’. We lived in unity and peace, yet in the society I now live in is full with hate, intimidation, injustice and Sinicism just to mention a few. I am completely baffled by the way society perceives blacks or brown as I was seen in Jamaica. MARTIN LUTHER KING prayed for a world where we as black people would not be defined by the colour of our skins and BOB MARLEY noted that until the philosophy that holds one race inferior and another superior is finally and permanently annihilated there will always be war.

  • Public_enemy

    Racism only prevalent in the USA? Breaking news…… has been present since people have been assembling and looking for ways to segregate. Look at Egyptian hieroglyphics, slaves are usually depicted as darker pigmented. I realize that is largely a relict of the populations preyed upon for slave labor, but that was long before caucasians entered the equation.

  • Public_enemy

    Hey, SHirley,

    While I totally respect your right to be black and proud, weren’t we all African about 200K years ago? I’ve always wondered what really constitutes our nature, race seems like an archaic construct that will one day be viewed as naive. I wish we were closer to that point, or at least more pragmatic as a society in what it means to be “human”. I also realize I operate from a position of racial and gender power so I may not be as objective as I’d like to think I am ;-).


    Get over it! The term race is just a construct! All life began in Africa read the works of Richard leakey and Spencer Wells. Get overthei race mixingthing. it’s nonsense. What weare realy talking about when we talk about it the melanin in someone’s organ. We aretalking about the colour of someone’s organ, for christ sakes! It’s a shame how we put so much emphasis in making our identities confrom to some dumb notion of hues of skin. damn shame. So what if you are mixed up, so to speka. We all came from Africa anyway! Get out of your nonsese!

  • Max

    53rd State? Is this ‘always told’ joke told by complete idiots? There are only 50 states. “Canadians always hate hearing that” – yes most people hate being reminded that we are living under the smug soft-imperialism of the USA, including the Canadians, British, French, etc., etc.

  • Joyce Edwards

    This is my first time reading one of the Malcolm Gladwell. I am a high school graduate, with no formal education, clerical worker that really enjoy reading. Blink was one of the books being read as a training tool at the company I work. The executive that I worked with sometimes screen books through me. I would read them and give her my feedback. I usually take away something from most books I read but I thought this was a real eye opener and to remind some of us of our filtering / thin slicing, can keep us from hiring a Julie Landsman or even worse mind-blind us to only see the switch on the wall. So many examples of our blind society. I will read the Outliers next.

    I didn’t really get the replies about why he is on “Faces of America” . I guess it is the word “America”.

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  • Barbara

    I just saw this episode as re-presented on PBS. In it, Mr. Gladwell’s observations and experiences of racism (in the United States) vs. acceptance (in Canada) were certainly germane to the topic of “Faces of America”, and to the experiences of millions of people in the United States. He speaks from a unique position to address both.

  • skitty poop

    Awesome writing style!

  • Dr. J Gray

    First i want to thank Dr. Gates for his extraordinary research and for what that has meant to all americans. Im writing this the day after the thanksgiving holiday 2012 in louisiana after having recently discussed my grandfathers scottish irish ancestry with my mother today. I had the DNA analysis done a while back and found out about my west african heritage and tribal heritage there as well. I agree with Mr. Gladwell and smiled when he said that the broader our definition of who we are the harder it is to pin us down. I noticed many years ago that when i am not in the United States and am in south america, colombia, asia, etc etc I am rarely confronted with the question of what color i am or what my affiliation is. The heritage as many of you know, in louisiana, is extremely diverse. I myself have a west indian grandmother, european ancestry as stated, west african ancestry, and native american ancestry. Obviously growing up in the south i was simply labeled as ” black”. My mother found out years ago humorously enough that she is related to the family of the ex state senator she has worked for many years. My point is that i feel being a part of the human race and not one particular color broadens the definition of who i am and gives me options socially, and spiritually more importantly. I hope in the future i get to read some of Mr. Gladwell’s books as well as some books on the Serrer tribes of west africa which thanks to Mr. Gates i now know i herald from many generations later. Happy holiday to all from the land of were stilling becoming free in many ways still.. :) I enjoyed this video respite as my mother fed us our Kosher post holiday meal on the sabbath in our ” black” southern household. Haha.. Peace to all.

  • sorrywhore

    i have a bump on my face

  • Raymond Ladebo


    You are invited to read a fresh, fascinating and timely contribution to the current topical issue of inter-racial families.

    Johnny Williams, a debonair likeable young graduate student, raised by a loving adoptive elderly couple started his life journey as an abandoned one day-old, in a basket left at a Westchester church-front. His birth mother was a teenage blond blue-eyed student who returned to her university in California; unable to find peace, even later as a professional magazine editor. Due to Johnny’s hair being peculiarly tangled from birth, he’s forced to permanently keep his hair in braids and to adopt the name DADA because he firmly believes his birth mother must have been from West Africa. His university degree course in Social Anthropology may have been subconsciously driven by his burning desire to find the mother that abandoned him at birth. His fascination with the Yoruba culture leads him on some adventurous travels with many twists and turns while he is also privileged to meet and make friends with some elderly intellectuals along the way.
    JOURNEY OF HOPE OR DESTINY adopts Yoruba philosophical worldview to narrate a story that reflects the global influence of race and social construct on different cultures.

    The insightful new eBook title is published by Amazon Kindle eBook. Please visit:–Phenomenon-refuses-ebook/dp/B007PKQS4U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1359139999

    You may also borrow to read from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library on,, and
    It is an ideal eBook title as supplementary reading in Social Anthropology, Sociology and Humanities.

    Best Regards
    Raymond Ladebo

  • alexis


  • alexis

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  • Donn Valtierra

    Hi Stephen Elliot. I just got a letter dated 1/19/12 from Lorelie Lee in an envelope from you. I’ve no idea whatsoever how I got on your list. But I’ll write Lorelie back again (a real letter, even), because it was pretty fucking brave of her to write that.

  • Herschel Rupar

    IDNX is something that has been missing for sometime now. Very good looking out, Thies Lindenthal

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