The Tipping Point book review, characters and summary

The Tipping Point


Originally published in the fall of 2000, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is one of Malcolm Gladwell’s best sellers. It falls under the genre of non-fiction and revolves around sociology and psychology.

Mostly explained in the third person’s point of view, the novel takes us through many historical events.

About The Author

Born on the 3rd of September, 1963, Malcolm Timothy Gladwell is more than just a writer. He is also a journalist and a public speaker. Since 1996, he has been The New Yorker’s staff writer.

Alongside The Tipping Point, he has published six other books. Furthermore, Malcolm is the Revisionist History podcast’s host and the podcast company Pushkin Industries’ co-founder.

Despite being in the limelight for years, the author hasn’t revealed a lot regarding his relationship and partner. Speaking of his family, they are Mennonite community’s part in Southwestern Ontario. Over the years, he has received honorary degrees from the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto and has also been awarded the Order of Canada.


The main character of the novel is Gaetan Dugas. During the HIV epidemic in North America, he is the supposed “Patient Zero.”

Some other significant characters in the book are listed below:
Kitty Genovese – A young lady that was raped & murdered
Paul Revere and William Dawes – American heroes who warned about the British army’s invasion
Roger Horchow – A companionable man,
Lois Weisberg – Cultural Affairs’ former commissioner for the City of Chicago
Rod Steiger – A famous Hollywood actor

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Besides those mentioned above, other characters are Mark Alpert, Tom Gua, Joan Cooney, Lester Wunderman, William Bratton, Rudolph Giuliani, Bernhard Goetz, and Georgia Sadler.


The Tipping Point had a total of eight chapters. The author starts the discussion by stating the baffling increase in Hush Puppies shoes among Manhattan’s hipsters, which later took over the USA.

The first chapter of the book is The Three Rules of Epidemics. In this part, Gladwell points out the three rules; Law of the Few, Stickiness Factor, and Power of Context.

In the second chapter, the writer has gone further to explain “The Law of the Few.” He has identified a small group of personnel who usher many trends to prominence. Connectors, they act as a channel and have links to different realms. Mavens, they help consumers to make informed selections. Salesmen, they’re exceedingly convincing and can affect a customer’s buying decisions.

The third chapter is The Stickiness Factor which plays a significant role in deciding if a trend will be immensely popular. Here, Gladwell shows examples of Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, and the Educational Virus and how they shaped and improved children’s actions.

The fourth chapter elaborates on The Power of Context. In the first part, he explains some causes behind the decline in crime rates in 1990s NY City. Then in the second part, he explains 150, the magic number.

The last two chapters are basically case studies. The first case study is about the Airwalk shoes’ rise and fall. In addition to that, the second case study is about suicide, smoking & the search of unsitcky cigarettes.

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Lastly, in the concluding chapter, Gladwell discusses about tests, focus, and belief.


One of The Tipping Point’s themes is its analytical theme. Gladwell identifies, dissects, and explains the process by which some trends become widely known while some don’t.

Some other themes of the book are the significance of tiny changes, character vs. context, social clout, and stickiness.

Strength and Weakness

Gladwell has considered the eminence of context and other refined details in our surroundings in the book. The writer has also provided the contour of essential individuals in the widespread of an epidemic.

One of the book’s major weaknesses is that, at times the writer becomes too complex in what he is explaining and stating. By this, some readers may go out of track and even lose their focus.

My Take on The Book

Over the 304 pages, Malcolm Gladwell has stated many factors, mainly the tipping points which can make things go viral. He has given building bricks to people who want to make and sell their products and take them into the trendy market. The rating of 4/5 from Goodreads seems plausible, and the book’s main point is a guide to search for a tipping point and enforce it regularly.

The Tipping Point