A Profile of the Author of ‘Blink’ and ‘The Tipping Point’

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

The New York Times has published A Profile of the Author of ‘Blink’ and ‘The Tipping Point’, Malcolm Gladwell:

He’s long cultivated the persona of the outsider. Gladwell, 42 though he looks younger, was born in England and grew up in rural Canada. His English father taught mathematics at the University of Waterloo, and his Jamaican mother is a psychotherapist. Gladwell studied history at the University of Toronto and wanted to go into advertising, but said he couldn’t find a job and became a journalist instead. After a stint at The American Spectator, a conservative political magazine, he joined The Washington Post in 1987. He covered business and science, and spent three years as New York bureau chief before Tina Brown, then editor of The New Yorker, hired him in 1996.

Gladwell, a self-described ‘right-winger’ as a kid — he had a poster of Ronald Reagan on his wall during college — notes that his politics have changed over the years. When he was growing up, Canada was ‘essentially a socialist country’ so ‘being a conservative was the kind of fun, radical thing to do,’ he said. ‘You couldn’t outflank the orthodoxy on the left the way that people traditionally did when they wanted to be rebels. There was only room on the right.’ Now, he plays the flip side: ‘I hate to be this reductive, but an awful lot of my ideology, it’s just Canadian. Canadians like small, modest things, right? We don’t believe in boasting. We think the world is basically a good place. We’re pretty optimistic. We think we ought to take care of each other,’ he said. ‘And it so happens that to be a Canadian in America is to seem quite radical.’

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