Spreading the Word

How do ideas get carried? Like germs, says a new book, which helps explain Hush Puppies

To begin with, there's the midnight ride of William Dawes. On the April night in 1775 that Paul Revere got on his horse, Dawes set off along different roads on the same mission, spreading word that the British were coming. Revere mobilized the local militiamen everywhere he rode. Dawes didn't. Was it something he said?

Or maybe something he was? This is the kind of thing that Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for the New Yorker, thinks about in The Tipping Point (Little, Brown; 279 pages; $24.95), a somersaulting exercise in social theory that tries to explain how ideas and trends...

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