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Range

How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (321 ratings)

Non-member price: $18.22

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Publisher's 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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    3 out of 5 stars

A compelling fantasy novel

I think my issue with this book is an issue I have with most books of this genre. There is a compelling question, drawing me in, with thoughtful arguments. But as soon as I leave Epstein’s world of ultra intelligent / effective / successful / perfect human case studies, and I try to fit his conclusions to the actual world that exists before me, it becomes apparent how vapid and meaningless his thesis is. Focusing exclusively on the 0.00001% of people who achieve greatness is a textbook example of confirmation bias. It doesn’t examine whether similar people who made similar decisions achieve abject failure or silent mediocrity. The longer the book went on, the less I was confident in his assertions, because even if he isn’t cherry-picking examples to fit what he wants to say, he’s certainly cherry-picking by focussing on people who have really made a name for themselves. And the longer the book went on, the less I was able to identify with his points, because his examples of stand-out people are by definition not most people, and surely not me. This book is a fantasy novel. Sure, it’s written in the style of pop psychology / sociology / business, but don’t be fooled, it’s still a fantasy novel. I enjoyed the main character, because I tend to be the sort of person that exhibits range in my life. Does that make me more likely to be successful? Probably not! Are you not that sort of person? It probably doesn’t matter! If you’re looking to get absorbed into an amazing world where everyone is Somebody Important And Amazing, this book is a real page-turner. And it does explore interesting questions in a digestible way. Who says fantasy novels can’t deal with real-world issues? I only advise against reading this under the impression it’s non-fiction. This book doesn’t tell us how the world, or humans, or you really work. It would be refreshing if authors like Epstein could be honest about this, but that’s not how this cottage industry works. When you close the pages of Range, no matter how enthralling a story, you must face the fact that your broom is certainly just a broom, and you are not Harry Potter.

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Too long for a simple idea

Go on youtube and listen to his talk. That should be enough to understand the point of the book. No need to read this

1 person found this helpful

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Best book that I have read in a while

Very readable, thoroughly researched and well argued. The one key theme is explored across multiple dimensions. Despite its length and single theme there is no fluff. Case studies are very engaging. I plan to re-listen immediately.

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Essential!

This book is an incredible asset, especially for high school and university graduates, and those who want a fulfilling life!

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Range is worth the listen

An approach to expanding your skill base and experiences that will help identify your purpose

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Very uninspiring

This book sounds like it was narrated by a robot. Couldn’t the author narrate it? Aweful !

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  • Sam
  • 15-04-2020

Great collection of anecdotes and discoveries

Great collection of anecdotes and discoveries all strung together by the thread of a diversifying what one does

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Was the perfect audiobook to start a new semester

I listened to Range about a chapter a day for two weeks. For most of those days it was the most thoughful part. I found the ideas in this book to be immensely comforting, it made me want to push myself to explore .

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Must read for any doctor or medical student

One of the best books I've read. Resonate with it highly. For any future medic, this is on par with House of God.

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great book especially if your a ranger

really enjoyed this, narrator is great. information well put together and wide ranging! highly recommend for people with varied interests or who have kids

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  • Panashe
  • 08-07-2019

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-09-2020

one of my most valuable and enjoyable

excellent. well done David. Thank you for the extra range that you have given my brain.

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  • Emmanuel Tarfa
  • 27-09-2020

Amazing book

A great Recommendation for all ...The ideas discussed should be applied in education and government.

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  • Sagar
  • 27-09-2020

Waste of time

The entire book could have been just one line - there are benefits to being a generalist rather than a specialist - and you would get it. The book stretched this way too much through unnecessary examples and stories that are hard to buy into or empathize with.

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  • Sonali Correa
  • 19-07-2020

Counter intuitive genius

There are many stories in the overarching theme of the book. The takeaway should not be narrow and simple as the narrative it debunks. 'Start early and specialize or you will be behind' is not supported by evidence. That is one take away. But there is much more. Breath of experience is important even in very specialized fields of knowledge like nobel science candidates. The common narrative in education institutions is go make yourself a specialist, needed and important, acomplish something and then you will feel good about yourself is terribly wrong. The advice should be changed for something like: experiment and test different things, let yourself time to really experience a variety before specializing in one thing. Even then, keep your interests broad and wide between no related disciplines you like. That will keep you from burnout and enrich you in ways no obvious even to you. That broader experience will make your contributions more original and impactful! A must re read. Doesn't exhausts it's content in one pass. Definetely will recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-03-2020

Life changing

This is a book that everyone should read. Epstein’s advice, backed up with both data and anecdotes, are words which I wish I had understood when I was younger. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone

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  • Rodrigo Echeverri
  • 19-02-2020

Fantastically counterintuitive

Epstein dares challenge the very principles of society’s revered academic system, which is built upon specialisation. He delightfully illustrates his point with several examples, in which achievements are reached only because of exposure to multi-disciplinary thinking. This book has made me reconsider my approach to the education of my child.

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  • HM
  • 30-06-2019

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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-2019

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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  • Rob B
  • 02-10-2019

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

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  • Tyler
  • 16-08-2019

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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  • R.
  • 04-07-2019

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Alessio Malizia
  • 16-12-2019

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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  • Tommi Jokela
  • 05-10-2019

Well written argument for broad knowledge

Intriguing perspective on how it might be better to broaden your knowledge rather than deepen it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marc
  • 28-09-2019

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-2020

Incredible insight

Fascinating take on what defines success, going against the grain and accepted wisdom to uncover brilliant stories of range, and why breadth is such a vital ingredient in success (however you define it). Highly recommended

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  • Matthew Dashper-Hughes
  • 30-08-2020

Smart and Insightful

The concept the book propounds is that hyper specialisation is, counter intuitively, unhelpful for productuvity and innovation in anything other than relatively 'kind' systems where there is relatively little change and there are a finite number of variables, so consistent patterns emerge. Generalists, polymaths, and late specialisers tend to produce better, more effective, and more innovative results where conceptual, unpredictable, and ambiguous challenges abound. This idea is relatively easy to get your head around, and some may find the content gets repetitive towards the back end of the book, but stick with it... The well researched stories that illustrate the underlying tenet are universally well told and compelling.