Book Review: Talking to Strangers

Cover imageI love to read; I have for many years. One of the challenges I currently experience is falling asleep by about the third page. Perhaps this is more about my age! I have read many good books recently but Gladwell’s “Talking to Strangers” is the first book I have read for many years where falling asleep was not an option or even a temptation.  For those of you who have read some of Gladwell’s other books or perhaps listened to his TED talks you know Gladwell is engaging and accessible. Perhaps not always evidence based but always thought provoking. Talking to Strangers is not only very easy to read it is very relevant to police officers. 

Gladwell, through a series of historical and contemporary case studies, many of which are police related, builds to his proposition that we are inept at judging the motives of strangers.  Gladwell concludes, “We think we can transform the stranger, without cost or sacrifice, into the familiar and the known, and we can't.”

 

Perhaps in our professional world, Gladwell’s final conclusion is most challenging,

 

“To assume the best about another (trust) is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature gets violated are tragic.  But the alternative – to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception-is worse.” 

Review by Bob Fauser, AIPM Director of Education, 2020. 

(published on 18/05/2020)

Book review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Yuval Harari’s latest book builds upon his previous two, Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus. Harari is an historian, but this book is about modern philosophy.  Harari covers such a diverse range of contemporary issues facing modern society that it is almost exhausting to read.  It is not exhausting because it is difficult to read or to understand his intent, in fact it is very easy to read, and Harari’s writing style is engaging and even entertaining.  It is exhausting because his storytelling will have you constantly examining your own beliefs and values. Harari examines a diversity of topics from autonomous vehicles and big data to terrorism and domestic violence.  As an example, Harari concludes that our government’s (perhaps read police) takes a softer approach to domestic and sexual abuse because “rape (or other violence against women) does not undermine the government’s legitimacy”, like terrorism or some forms of white-collar crime.  This statement is of course in the context of the much greater societal harm that is caused by domestic and sexual abuse than is caused by terrorism.  For those who like to be intellectually challenged by content rather than writing style I strongly recommend this book. If you want to try Harari before you commit to his book, he has delivered several TED talks. 

Review by Bob Fauser, AIPM Director – Graduate Programs, 2019. 

(published on 21/01/2019)
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