Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

352 pages

English language

Published Feb. 22, 2019

ISBN:
978-0-7352-1448-4
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Goodreads:
41795733

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4 stars (30 reviews)

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World is a 2019 book by David Epstein in which he expands on the points from his previous book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance to make a more general argument against overspecialization. In the book, he argues that range – defined as more diverse experience across multiple fields – is more relevant in today's society than specialization because the wicked problems of the modern world require bridging experience and knowledge from multiple fields to foster solutions.

1 edition

Review of 'Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars



David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World is the most insightful book that I have read this year. I saw Epstein’s work recommended by Bill Gates as a must-read. I’ve found over the years that almost all of Gates’ picks are superb. Range is the type of book that contains valuable lessons and information for almost anyone concerned with dynamic thinking in the modern world.

The crux of Epstein’s book is quite simple. Americans reside in a society that stresses the importance of starting early and going deep into a specialization. This could be mastering the violin by starting a child off at an early age. At the same time, this ethic encourages high school students to select a career path early and stick with it, no matter what. Broadly though we now have a problem. Too many people are becoming specialists and lack the type of …

Review of 'Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Really well written look at a the relationship between early, late, and lack of specialization(appropriately) in a wide array of topics and professions. David covers a lot of ground, and a lot of different aspects of the specialization vs interdisciplinary integration schools of thought and while he certainly argues categorically in favor of a more generalized approach to education, play, and research, he doesn't dismiss any of the nuance in his discussion, nor does he disregard the need for specialization(rather arguing that fetishistic the notion of an early start in a single specialized track can be damaging when it becomes the norm).


8.5/10

Review of 'Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Find this review - and some more - on my website here.
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Started with a tightly-knit structure, but faltered at the end. The last few chapters were a slog to get through - mostly because of numerous "business-class" style case studies.

Main takeaway? Other than the central idea around which the book revolves (and succinctly mentioned as the book subtitle too), the idea of interleaving is what struck me the most. I had already read about this particular method in Michael Nielsen's brilliant post on Anki (Augmenting Long-term Memory) and it was interesting to read about it formally in the book. Interleaving is the technique of mixing up your learning in varied environments so that it makes some unusual connections that you'd normally won't think about - and might come in handy when you are faced with a problem in a new environment you haven't previously …

Review of 'Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

A case for curiosity, open-mindedness, and interdisciplinary study.

Hyper-specialization and deliberate practice in kind learning environments (10k hrs) are the opposing view. The author acknowledges that we all specialize to one degree or another, at one point or another, and that’s beneficial to everyone. But the road there—and the extent to which we do—is worth consideration.

There’s a lot in here. Along with specialization vs range, AI, and interesting stories of outside the box cooperation, there’s a lot about our learning process. Fermi problems, conceptual reasoning, sampling periods, desirable difficulties, spaced repetition, interleaving, finding match quality, knowing if and when to quit, dark horse’s short term strategies, etc. The book has range.

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