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The Limits of “Grit”

David Denby reviews both Angela Duckworth’s new book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” and Paul Tough’s new piece, ““Helping Children Succeed” (a sequel to the acclaimed “How Children Succeed,” from 2012).

There may be a few champions who get by purely on talent, luck, or family wealth, but we can assume—can’t we?—that most highly successful people are resilient and persevering. It would be news if they weren’t. Grit can  be partly inferred from their success itself, which is, of course, what drew Angela Duckworth to these people in the first place. There are no mediocre or moderately successful people in her book, and she has little interest in the myriad ways we hamper ourselves—failure, in this account, is simply owing to a lack of grit.