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Malcolm Gladwell: He Gets Letters!


Today’s New Yorker contains four letters in response to a recent piece by Malcolm Gladwell. Three aren’t that intelligible but the fourth contains a rebuke. Memoirist and writer Susan Cheever—daughter of John—writes in to correct a myth about the first telephone call, between Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson. Watson, it turns out, is Ms. Cheever’s great-grandfather. (Wha huh?)

In Gladwell’s essay, I was surprised to find a new version of the old myth about the invention of the telephone—the story that the telephone was born when Alexander Graham Bell spilled battery acid on himself and called out to Thomas Watson for help. In fact, March 10, 1876, the day Watson heard Bell through the wire, was a day completely without drama.

Gladwell has not blogged since mid-March; perhaps by Labor Day we will hear his thoughts on this matter.