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Publisher's Summary

This New York Times best seller is the authoritative guide to comprehending what happened in the 2004 elections and understanding how progressive thinkers can wrest control of America's political dialogue away from the conservatives who have it now.

Author George Lakoff, who has become a key advisor to the Democratic Party, asserts that the Republican Party has enjoyed recent success because of the way it expertly "frames" the issues. Using carefully chosen terminology like "tax relief" and "family values", conservatives have cast themselves in a positive light and convinced many Americans to vote against their true beliefs. Now Lakoff shows how progressives can beat conservatives at their own game.

Regardless of your political beliefs, Don't Think of an Elephant! will surely open your eyes to the reality of the modern political landscape.

Foreward by Howard Dean. Introduction by Don Hazen.
©2004 George Lakoff; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"[Lakoff's] writing is clear and succinct, and he illuminates his theories through easy-to-follow examples from current politics." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall

A very insightful book

This is one of the best audiobooks I've downloaded. Prof. Lakoff does a terrific job of explaining how the Republicans use (abuse?) the language. Truly a wake up call for Democrats.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Chicago, IL, USA
  • 07-03-05

A tremendously insightful book

This is a popularized version of George Lakoff's superb POLITICS AND MORALS, which was an attempt to explain the fundamental differences between the moral vision that informs both parties. Members of both parties can definitely benefit from the book, either by affirming one's view of things, or by causing reevaluation. Lakoff explains that the views can be best expressed in terms of how each side views families. Democrats tend to operate with a "nurturing parent" model of morals and politics, while Republicans tend to operate with a "stern father" model. I personally believe that this has extraordinary explanatory power in describing the difference between the two parties. Indeed, if you listen to almost any member of the GOP, you will see a host of concepts that flow from a "stern father" model. It explains why Republicans consistently fight any effort on the part of government to help Americans, prefering instead to force individuals to take complete responsibility for their lives. It explains conversely why Democrats tend to support legislation that helps those who may temporarily in need of help. The GOP is trying to force people to stand on their own two feet, while Democrats realize that sometimes people need help getting back on their feet.

The other major aspect of the book is Lakoff's concern that Democrats (his affiliation) have done a terrible job of "framing" political issues, and using the moral model he has articulated and noted in my first paragraph, he wants to show Democrats how he can reframe issues themselves, and not merely allow the GOP to frame every issue.

Republicans might disagree with Lakoff, but I think his "stern father"/"nuturing parent" distinction is astonishingly insightful. Many conservatives will embrace the concepts that attach to a "stern father" model (it certianly describes, for instance, the work of GOP kingpin James Dobson). I heartily recommend this book.

35 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alesia
  • birmingham, AL, USA
  • 03-16-06

i hate politics but i love this book

I hate politics but i loved this book. Lakoff does a great job explaining why the current political situation in the USA appears to defy logic. I had several "AHA!" moments where i suddenly understood not only the current political dichotomy of conservative vs. progressive, but also my own frustration with the people who I actually agree with politically. No matter what "side" of the political fence you are on, his ideas will stretch your brain to think differently about politics and about language.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stephen
  • Houston, TX, USA
  • 09-22-05

What a fabulous book!

If you're looking for a way to understand the basis of Republican "Conservatism", get this book. Dr. Lakoff presents an especially useful way to think about the right-wing agenda, and how that contrasts with progressive aspirations.

I also thought the narrator did a fine job of conveying the author's meaning.

The whole listening experience was a treat.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jessica
  • Oakland, CA, USA
  • 08-02-05

Good Read

Really helped me to understand politics. Words are VERY important and the left has not yet caught up with the right in creating great frames for our issues. This book explains both why and suggests how to change it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Aubrey
  • CUT OFF, LA, United States
  • 04-01-16

Communication Skills for Progressives

I really, really liked this book! It helps you to understand why people believe what they believe in regards to family and politics. The progressive ideology is proving to be more in alignment with the best ways to raise children! The "strict father" model that Republicans value has been shown to cause problems in society. I STRONGLY recommend listening to this book!

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  • Greg
  • Springfield, OR, United States
  • 02-07-12

Not getting into the details...

There's really no point to arguing the politics as either you'll agree or you won't but Don't Think of Elephant is a quick listen. However, its marred by repetitiveness. Its clear Lakoff really wants to drive home his points but of the course of 4 hours, the book starts to wear thin.

  • Overall
  • Jim
  • Laurel, MD, United States
  • 03-31-06

Framing is an art.

This book gave me a new understanding of the methods of the right, and how they are able to ignore facts. It puts a world view, which has been foreign to me, into perspective. It helps explain how to express ones self and get a positive result. A must listen for those of us on the left.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful