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Book review: Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed: why you should read this book!

I found this a really thought-provoking book and the topic of how we should pool our collective intelligence to tackle complex global issues seems particularly relevant at this time, given the apparent lack of viable solutions which work for everybody.

Matthew Syed has undoubtedly done the research on his topic but what makes the book a fascinating read is its insightful accounts of real life disasters such as the CIA's failures to anticipate 9/11, the 'perfect' storm on Everest as well as more uplifting tales like the cracking of the Enigma code and the deradicalisation of a leading white supremacist.

It's the kind of book that gets people talking ( I was a patient in hospital recently and one of the passing doctors saw the book on my bedside table and came over to ask me what I thought of it!) which is precisely the point of it...our sociability is what makes human society so amazing...and Matthew explains why in insightful style.

My only disappointments are that the book ends without a really clear set of recommendations and 'takeaways' at the personal level, and that weighty topics like 'unconscious bias' are only given a couple of pages when they merit more discussion and illustration through anecdotes, as Matthew does so well with some of the other issues he discusses earlier on. Maybe he ran out of steam, was under pressure from the editor to keep the book to a certain length or maybe it's just a clever way of getting the reader to go and consult a more diverse set of resources to upskill themselves!

Anyway, I'd definitely recommend you read this book and make up your own mind. It's already set me on a path to finding out more about several of the topics covered.


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