Book review: Quiet, by Susan Cain

By Giles Broadbent on April 20, 2012 1:03 PM |


Quiet, by Susan Cain

Susan Cain argues that Western culture values bravado over contemplation, to the detriment of business, society and creativity.

Susan Cain's important thesis is simple: extroverts (self-evidently) grab the attention, often undeservedly, while introverts, who often have more to offer, are overlooked and dismissed as ineffectual.

There is a crucible for this idea currently on TV.

The overwhelming, overbearing, often misguided (but invariably followed) voice of the extrovert is amply on display in all its ghastly glory in The Apprentice.

The loudmouth wins. The pushy, upfront, take-no-prisoners candidate is lauded and the thinker (it's all relative of course) is considered structurally flawed and weak.

Worryingly (but predictably) Big Pharma is attempting to make social anxiety an illness to be cured, ironing out the wrinkles that provided, as Cain notes, the Apple Computer, the theory of relativity and Van Gogh's sunflowers.

The book is culturally biased (in her native US shouty is good while in Asian cultures the reverse is often the case).

However, this is a detailed, fascinating and level-headed book which provides much succour to the shy.