Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About People We Don't Know (Malcolm Gladwell) - Little, Brown and Company - 2019 - 377 pages

Sandra Bland was arrested and jailed for changing lanes without signaling to allow a police vehicle to pass her.  By itself, this statement seems to be absurd.  How could this happen?  Of course, there was a lot more to this situation that author Gladwell explains in detail.  But the Bland episode is just the beginning and ending of this book that digs deeply into communication failures, past and present.  You and I know all of these stories: Chamberlain/Hitler; Castro/CIA, Sylvia Plath, Amanda Knox, Jerry Sandusky, Brock Turner, etc.  However, none of the mainstream media stories displayed all of the journalistic skills that Gladwell presents in his investigations.  I learned much more about all of these cases.  One of Gladwell's conclusions is that: professionals like judges and law enforcers do not really do a very good job of telling the difference between truths and lies.  A machine could do a better job.  One person (Fidel Castro) could outwit the entire U.S. intelligence infrastructure for decades.  Neville Chamberlain was well-intentioned but ill-equipped to understand the brain of Adolph Hitler.  Amanda Knox was someone who was innocent but who acted like a guilty idiot in a foreign country.  Gladwell links many of these communication failures into general categories that he labels "default to truth," "coupling" and "transparency."  Although he does a good job of identifying problems, he avoids the offering of solutions.  I suppose that is left to others.  But, I fear that these mistakes will be repeated ad infinitum.  For example: there are more guns than people in this country with no resolution in sight.  [JAM 9/16/2019]