Jordan Timm | Mar 3, 2008 | 19:08:36
Malcolm Gladwell rose to international prominence with his 2000 book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, which investigated why “social epidemics”—quick and unexpected changes like the dramatic drop in crime in 1990s New York City, or the sudden elevation to bestseller status of an unknown book by an unknown author—happen the way they do. The Tipping Point was an instant hit—Salon.com called it “the perfect buzz manual for the new century” for the way it alchemized epidemiology, behavioural research, marketing and memetics into a breezily accessible work of pop social science. And the phrase “tipping point” worked its way into general usage.
Before becoming a guru of the zeitgeist, however, Gladwell was a working journalist—albeit an exceptionally curious and interesting one. Born in England, the 44-year old Gladwell was raised in Elmira, Ontario. His English father is an engineering professor at the University of Waterloo and his Jamaican mother is a psychotherapist.
Gladwell studied history at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College and moved south of the border after graduation. From 1987 until 1996 he was a reporter for the Washington Post, working the business and science beats and later becoming the paper’s bureau chief in New York City. In 1996, he joined The New Yorker as a staff writer.
In 2005 Gladwell released his second book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Investigating the effectiveness of instinct versus judgment based on analysis, Blink was also a bestseller. That same year Time named Gladwell one of its 100 most influential people, and in 2007 he received an award for excellence in the reporting of social issues from the American Sociological Association.
He currently resides in New York City.