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Summary of David and Goliath 

Short summary

This bite-sized summary contains many different stories of underdogs who were pitted against seemingly unbeatable opponents and ended up victorious, the most famous being the story of David and Goliath. It explores the idea that being an underdog changes people in ways they cannot see or appreciate. Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist, writer, and renowned public speaker. He has been writing for The New Yorker since 1996 and was formerly a business and science reporter at the Washington Post. Malcolm Gladwell is the host of Revisionist History- a podcast that focuses on the overlooked and the misunderstood. He is also the co-creator of Pushkin industries, a podcast and audiobook company. “The act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

Key points


We need courage and wit to overcome the giants in our lives

The Philistines loved to go on long trips, and they were based in ancient Palestine. The Israelites, under the leadership of Saul, gathered at Shephelah to battle with the Philistines who wanted to take over their territory. The Philistines were men of war. The two kingdoms were camped around the valley of Elah. Goliath, a fully armed 6ft9 giant from the Philistine camp, came to challenge the Israelites but the Israelites were so afraid of him. No one could face the giant until David volunteered to do so.

King Saul felt it was impossible for David to fight with Goliath without a sword and armor, but David refused. Instead, David charged towards Goliath with his shepherd’s staff, some stones, and a leather sling, and with these, he killed Goliath.
Everyone has enormous challenges, but some people have learnt to handle them better than others.
We hear stories of people like David who, in spite of their prevailing disadvantages, managed to overcome. In reality, David’s disadvantages were somewhat exaggerated to make his victory seem a lot more inspirational — ultimately, all the elements that gave Goliath the upper–hand also made him easy to defeat.

In this summary, you will learn that “giants” armies, disability, misfortune, and oppression — are not always what they seem. You will also be exposed to the stories of how famous and unpopular people responded to the giants in their lives.
The fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable. ~ Malcolm Gladwell

Your weakness is your most significant advantage over the norm

Vivek Ranadive, an Indian American business executive, volunteered to coach his daughter Anjali’s basketball team; they were mostly 12–year–olds. Although he had no experience in basketball, he was also at a place where he had to coach a group of untalented and inexperienced girls. Their goal was to get to the national championship, and they achieved it by doing weird things no one ever tried. The opposing team knew that the inexperience of Anjali’s team was their greatest weakness. Due to this weakness, Vivek Ranadive designed an unusual strategy to use the full–court press at all times. This is because the team could not play strong defense. The girls took advantage of the weak points in basketball and were able to usurp talent with their determined attempts. Vivek Ranadive was only familiar with crickets and football, but he knew that the most important thing about any sport is to win. The team’s disadvantage was what made them win the game because it gave them the allowance to play unconventionally.
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Having too many resources isn’t always in our best interest


Not venturing out of your “big pool” might hinder your success


Focus on the upside of disabilities rather than their inhibitions in order to maximize your potentials


We can turn traumatic events into something more meaningful through perseverance


Forgiveness is vital for our emotional health and beneficial to the society



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