Review of Smarter Faster Better

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point) kick-started an industry of journalists seeking social, technological, psychological, military, athletic, medical, biological, political or historical happenstance that they could weave somehow into advice on leadership or life to generate bestsellers of their own. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, best-selling author of The Power of Habit, doesn’t quite have Gladwell’s ability to mine advice from his collected tales, but he’s an engaging writer with a compelling roster of stories. Unlike Gladwell, Duhigg doesn’t immediately tie his illustrative reports to their teaching points or morals. He saves advice for his detailed appendix, “A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas,” which offers brief, bulleted take-aways for applying the lessons in the narratives. Few of the stories contain immediately accessible or practicable guidance for your life or work, however, Duhigg’s narratives do provide immediate, edge-of-your-seat, fascinating reading. He is an exceptional nonfiction writer with a rare understanding of suspense, pace and structure. Each chapter functions as a stand-alone story or gathering of related stories, so it doesn’t matter in what order you read them. getAbstract recommends Duhigg’s dramatic approach to anyone who enjoys tales of counterintuitive solutions and disasters avoided or handled intelligently.

About the Author

New York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Charles Duhigg also wrote the best-selling book The Power of Habit. He won the National Academies of Sciences, National Journalism and George Polk awards.



Duhigg doesn’t use his stories to build a cohesive program for becoming “smarter, faster” or “better.” Instead, he details how other people – relying on their training, intuition, courage, ability to detect their own judgment errors and refusal to succumb to fear – performed highly specific tasks in some smarter, better or faster way. Or he recounts how they absolutely failed to do so and points out what they could have done differently. Each negative example comes with a real-world positive counterexample.

Familiar Ground

Many current business books seem to draw on the same storehouse of innovative solution-finders. Duhigg visits that storehouse, too, with his account of how the writers and producers of Frozen thought their way out of self-created roadblocks. But Pixar’s and Disney’s methods suffer from business book overexposure, and this chapter seems familiar or, at least, not groundbreaking.

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    P. C. 2 years ago
    Very bad review. People came here by investing their time and money to have quality summaries, not reviews. Very disappointed. If you can not provide a summary then let the book keep aside rather puting a disappointing review.
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    T. C. 3 years ago
    I agree with the other commenters, first, I don't' care about the writer's opinion of how good the book was. Second, this isn't a very good summary and a lot of what was good about the book is left out.

    The section on teams doesn't seem correct either. Points 1 and 2 are the same...I don't recall that being the same in the book. This should probably be updated for those who have actually read the book this is a pretty bad representation.
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      Erica Rauzin 3 years ago
      Thank you very much for your comment, Mr. Collins. This piece is a review, not a full abstract. We create reviews when we haven't yet been able to obtain summarization rights from the publisher. I revisited the review it in light of your comments, and hasten to assure you our expert writer read the book carefully – as is always the case with our summaries and reviews. We find that any two individuals could select a different set of ideas to emphasize from any given book - especially given limited space; that is one of our most interesting challenges every day. We appreciate your perspective and thank you sincerely for sharing your reaction.
      Erica Meyer Rauzin
      Senior Managing Editor
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    C. R. 3 years ago
    Really poor summary. I listened to the audio book (9 hours) and I expected to find here a summary that I could keep for later reading. Did not find it, sorry.
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      Karen Londo 3 years ago
      Hello Cesar, thank you for your comment. I will contact you separately to assist you.
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    r. r. 4 years ago
    I read the power of habit and also the first part of this book. Obviously a 500 words summary cannot be sufficient to cover every aspect of this book but a few of important lessons are summarized ( eg: true teamwork, stretch goal,mind shift, questions) and I find them valuable from a 5 mins reading.
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    S. K. 4 years ago
    From the comment below, I assume the reason why this abstract did not actually summarize the book is because they were not able to. Regardless, I don't really care about the writer's opinion about this book in comparison to Malcolm Gladwell--I had hoped to learn more about the book's main points (and having listened to Duhigg on Freakonomics discussing the book, I know this review fell short).
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    E. B. 4 years ago
    Solid review. I do wish it had included the advice from the detailed appendix, “A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas,” which offers brief, bulleted take-aways for applying the lessons in the narratives, which is mentioned but not included in the review as far as I can tell. Nevertheless, I do think get abstract should do more reviews like this when they cannot get the rights to summarize a book.