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Summary

The instant Sunday Times top 10 and New York Times best seller.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/Mckinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2019.

A Financial Times Essential Reads of 2019 pick.

A powerful argument for how to succeed in any field: develop broad interests and skills while everyone around you is rushing to specialize. From the ‘10,000 hours rule’ to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialisation and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up with those who got a head start. This is completely wrong.

In this landmark book, David Epstein shows you that the way to succeed is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests - in other words, by developing range.

Studying the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors and scientists, Epstein demonstrates why in most fields - especially those that are complex and unpredictable - generalists, not specialists are primed to excel. No matter what you do, where you are in life, whether you are a teacher, student, scientist, business analyst, parent, job hunter, retiree, you will see the world differently after you've listened to Range. You'll understand better how we solve problems, how we learn and how we succeed. You'll see why failing a test is the best way to learn and why frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, Range shows how people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive and why spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to your success and how to achieve it.

©2019 David Epstein (P)2019 Penguin Random House LLC

Critic reviews

"David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range." (Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of Outliers)

"It’s a joy to spend hours in the company of a writer as gifted as David Epstein." (Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet)

"Urgent and important...an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance." (Daniel H. Pink)

What listeners say about Range

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Fantastic - As a serial career changer, this has demolished my guilt and imposter syndrome that tends to accompany such a career

A tonic for those interested in everything not just something.

Thank you David Epstein - Genius and timely

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  • HM
  • 30-06-19

One of the best books I have listened to

A very well composed tome which draws from different spheres of life into an impressive whole, this book should be compulsory reading at 2 points in life - before starting college and when you hit middle age. The 10 hours of listening that you invest in this will pay off in spades in later life.

8 people found this helpful

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Very interesting but high repetitive

Nice piece of work but too repetitive. Basically the whole book makes a case for a multidisciplinary approach to life and it all makes sense but after a couple of chapters it is basically repeating the same concept on and on again

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this book could be half the length

interesting concept but I had to give up reading as it just providing multiple examples to make the same point as the intro - stay broad to start with and then specialise later

4 people found this helpful

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  • R.
  • 04-07-19

Should have been a blog post

Another book that should have been a blog post with links to the examples used.

Sadly, I can see this book being used by average performers to reassure themselves that it’s ok not to try because then they’d specialise, and that’s somehow bad.

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Too many stories. No clear takeaways

It’s a sequence of anecdotes about individuals who achieved incredible things through talent and hard work. But this quickly gets repetitive and it’s hard to know what the point of the book actually is. I don’t really think I learnt anything other than to make sure you have some variety in your life. But there you go - read that sentence and save yourself hours going through the book

2 people found this helpful

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The Wide World of Why to Wander

Epstein delivers a resonant and robust case for exploring the world as a Jack of All Trades rather than (it at least before) becoming a master of one.

This book will challenge you and release you from rigid overspecialised assumptions.

Tremendously fascinating.

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Thought provoking

Great deal of detail and anecdotes to back up hypothesis. Personally came away with a changed view on specialisation.

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Did get a bit too lengthy however great concept

Deducted a star for the fact that it's super long and alot alot of examples, I'm a fan of examples but there's a limit on how many I need to understand the concept, however, the book does cover alot of great topics based on generalization and made me realize more that I am one, and why it's not such a bad thing, overall loads of good bits and outtakes just a bit too lengthy to get point across.

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A long essay with little original thinking

I had high desires for this book. There are some true nuggets of info / perspective on the topic of hyperspecialisation and range but most of the book is bloated with long drawn out case studies and stories that (I feel) take up a large majority of the content. I blame editors for not encouraging their authors to adopt brevity where it helps them to make a point more saliently. I lost the train of thought so often and really found it hard to persevere at times. He seems to be constantly making the case for the books premise which many of us would have likely accepted (or self identified with) from the title, and why ( I presume he got the book deal in the first place). I was vested in it as I wanted more substance on the topic and new thinking, not a collection of case studies.

In the conclusion he talks about a “one sentence answer”, and whilst I don’t think the book should be reduced to this, it definitely could have been far punchier. I’d happily buy an abridged version with the the key concepts and tenants elucidated without the fat.

It’s an essay at best, drawn out beyond what is necessary.

Sorry.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Panashe
  • 08-07-19

Hopeful message for the late bloomers

Great book with some fascinating insights about the benefits of experimenting with different fields. A lot of the content is covered in other books but it comes together nicely in Range.

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  • Sachin Narayanan
  • 10-04-22

excellent read

innovation and discovery happens at the edges of specialization, where the people are able to establish the interface and see through horizontally. priceless.

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  • malak
  • 23-02-22

Brilliant! A must read!

In a world filled with people obsessing over a head start, this book teaches us the value of slowing down, diversifying, experimenting and coming out on top. I highly recommend !

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  • Michael
  • 04-09-21

Something you should read

There's a whole industry related to hyper specialisation and a big focus on it.
People like Tiger Woods who were groomed from a very young age to do nothing else but play Golf.

But this book advocates for the majority of people who, like myself, try many things before finding what they are good at.

The main points are that finding the right fit matters more than a head start.
That having skills in multiple areas can be very useful.
That understanding and using lots of different mental models and analogies is powerful for creativity.
The author pulls in work from the book Superforecasting which shows how generalists regularly outperform specialists at forecasting the future but often still need the advice from specialists.
Actually the best option is when generalists and specialists work together.
There's also pokymaths. People who specialise in a particular area but also have a lot of general knowledge in a lot of different fields.

This book resonated with me. I followed a route of lots of experimentation. Got my pilots licence before I could drive. Did everything from choir and dance to Tae Kwon do and army cadets. I did 3D animation and competed in the RoboCup challenge. Thought I'd go into Uni doing robotics but now I am a web developer who creates stock footage and helps run an activist movement around transitioning to a Post Scarcity Society.

Web development is my specialisation but I'm still trying to create startup companies and want to write a SciFi novel.

So yeah I resonate with this book.

Given what I've heard, being someone with range is the standard. So you likely resonate with it too.

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  • Alette Liz Williams
  • 13-06-21

Everyone should experience this book

I loved this. I'm relieved because of it. I would share this with everyone I know.

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  • Sam Dakum
  • 02-06-21

Great Book

This is a book that is packed with lessons and many life examples. As a generalist myself, I found the lessons quite eye opening. I would love to listen to it again as I am sure I missed some parts of it. One thing I've learnt is that we over hype specialization without looking at what it took the person to be successful and that people that have Range tend bring to the table what specialists fail to see. There should not be an overbearing concentration on specialization or getting a head start. People can get to their peak and have impact without having an early start.

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  • Satria S.
  • 07-03-21

Brilliant!

I highly recommend this book. It is now in my top 10 recommended books of all time!

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  • Ashlea
  • 16-02-21

Fantastic...

just read it... it will expand narrow views on what it takes to be successful!

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  • RMR
  • 10-02-21

Necessary for anyone with ambition or self doubt

I loved the variety of case studies and was surprised by the number of people I thought were specialists who I now know we're generalists.

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  • Wayne Phillips
  • 31-01-21

Life changing and life affirming

This books helped me at a period in life where I left my career comfort zone and decided to Explore a carrier in a new domain. Ive been successful as a Special but at peace with adding Range so late in life, so keep growing and be more diverse and hopefully innovate