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August 6, 2018 | by  | in Podcasts |
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Revisionist History

I distinctly remember the first time I heard Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. It’s the kind of event that is hard to forget.
I was bored on the train, endlessly scrolling through Spotify searching for something new. Remembering that a friend had recommended to me the Malcolm Gladwell podcast, I tried my luck and pressed play on Episode One.
I was already familiar with Malcolm Gladwell and, to be honest, I had been sceptical. He has been writing for The New Yorker since 1996, but more famously published books like The Tipping Point, Outliers, and David and Goliath, among many. My hesitation came from Outliers and his famous 10,000 hours theory (10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field). I don’t think I’m the only one who finds it a bit of an oversimplification, surely there are more factors to greatness than just time, right?
Regardless, after getting through the first episode, my opinion on Gladwell had changed. After I pressed play, there was nothing else I could listen to for the next week as I “binge-listened” through his first two seasons.
There are many other podcasts that I do really enjoy, but this was the first time I had listened to something that surprised me.
I’ve always loved getting caught up in the stories of great books and movies. It’s this aspect — narrative — where Gladwell truly succeeds with his podcast. He could give us a historical retelling of major events (as the title implies), but instead, he finds more interesting stories from overlooked and forgotten moments of history.
Every episode contains all the ingredients of a Hollywood movie: a conflict, a resolution, an exciting premise, and sometimes a hero’s journey, making it incredibly easy to watch time fly by as you wait for the bus.
Beyond an engaging narrative, Gladwell also takes the time to reflect on what each story might tell us about wider society. After all, it is easy to forget that all of these stories are non-fiction. We often turn to literary greats for an interesting reflection of our reality, but sometimes (in the words of Mark Twain), truth is stranger than fiction.
I should note that while Gladwell is assertive, by no means does he expect to be blindly followed. He works best as an aid to constructing your own worldview.

If I had to sum up this series (which only gets better in its third season), I’d say “it’s an audio documentary that’s actually exciting”. This is no ordinary history lesson, and it certainly doesn’t feel like you’re in a classroom. I definitely recommend taking the dive and finding out for yourself why a history podcast from Malcolm Gladwell is consistently at the top of the charts, and maintains a five-star rating on iTunes.

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