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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Yale Law School professor Amy Chua, offers a bold new prescription for reversing our foreign policy failures and overcoming our destructive political tribalism at home

Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups. In many parts of the world, the group identities that matter most - the ones that people will kill and die for - are ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based. But because America tends to see the world in terms of nation-states engaged in great ideological battles - capitalism vs. communism, democracy vs. authoritarianism, the "free world" vs. the "axis of evil" - we are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics. Time and again this blindness has undermined American foreign policy.

In the Vietnam War, viewing the conflict through Cold War blinders, we never saw that most of Vietnam's "capitalists" were members of the hated Chinese minority. Every pro-free-market move we made helped turn the Vietnamese people against us. In Iraq we were stunningly dismissive of the hatred between that country's Sunnis and Shias. If we want to get our foreign policy right - so as to not be perpetually caught off guard and fighting unwinnable wars - the United States has to come to grips with political tribalism abroad.

Just as Washington's foreign policy establishment has been blind to the power of tribal politics outside the country, so, too, have American political elites been oblivious to the group identities that matter most to ordinary Americans - and that are tearing the United States apart. As the stunning rise of Donald Trump laid bare, identity politics have seized both the American left and right in an especially dangerous, racially inflected way. In America today every group feels threatened: whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, liberals and conservatives, and so on. There is a pervasive sense of collective persecution and discrimination. On the left, this has given rise to increasingly radical and exclusionary rhetoric of privilege and cultural appropriation. On the right, it has fueled a disturbing rise in xenophobia and white nationalism.

In characteristically persuasive style, Amy Chua argues that America must rediscover a national identity that transcends our political tribes. Enough false slogans of unity, which are just another form of divisiveness. It is time for a more difficult unity that acknowledges the reality of group differences and fights the deep inequities that divide us.

©2018 Amy Chua (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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Revelatory.

In light of the 2016 election, I have really struggled to make sense of the emerging extremes within American society. I have spent the last year and a half consuming all the literature I can on evolutionary psychology and tribalism and been inundated with information to the point that it has become hard to articulate much with clarity. This book however does a wonderful job weaving a simple narrative that explains what is gnawing at the American soul. Amy Chua has done a wonderful job presenting concrete examples with a strong scientific foundation in a practical way that everyone can understand. If you care or are concerned at all about the state of the United States, I highly recommend this book, it was an insightful and thoroughly enjoyable read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book.

A good explanation of why we are the way we are. I'm still not going to hug a GOP person.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A fantastic construct for today's political divide

This book took me through well-known events and movements with a new context, providing greater hope for entrenched groups and a greater chance that I might be able to understand some of the attitudes that have baffled me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Truly excellent, insightful and challenging

This covers difficult truths about political tribalism and identity politics. without being partisan it picks apart all sides of identity politics and gives a handfull of interesting stories from several other countries.

I definitely think people should read this and think hard about its implications.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very Informative

Everyone should read or listen to this book. It is topical and gives perspective on what is happening in the USA post-2016.

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  • Glori
  • Provo, UT, United States
  • 08-08-18

If you listen or read nothing else in 2018, read Political Tribes.

I think this is one of the most important books I have ever read. I love how evenhanded Chua is on the problems of all on the political spectrum. And, I subscribe to her honest optimism in the epilogue.

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A Bird’s-Eye View Of Tribalism

An incredibly written, informative bird’s-eye view of tribal tendencies that shape countries. Incisive and refreshing, Amy Chua uses Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela as examples of how America’s ignorance of countries’ tribal politics lead to mistakes in foreign policy, and illuminates the nuances of America’s various tribal identities that shed light on our current moment. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand the growing polarization in the political climate.

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A must read!

I loved it, learned so much from it and feel inspired from it to be more aware of group dynamics in day to day life and in larger political spheres.

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Real People, Solve Problems, With Eyes Wide Open

Amy Chua has documented America’s bias towards classical economics, and military evaluation, and problem solving. Getting beyond our current group identity politics is essential, for cultural healing, which has happened many times before, but is now hindered by “social media.”

The real estate prices in Silicon Valley belie the actual value placed on real interpersonal relationships. The technology proxies offered to their customers, have discounts covered up by marketing ploys. Face-to-Face group interactions solve problems exacerbated by technology, and the false sense of pseudo-interactions mediated by video screens.

Our US foreign policy blunders in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuela, should give us pause. When we get the tribal politics right, we can make real progress, as our concurrent tribal realignment with “The Surge” in Iraq showed.

We can perform better, by accurately assessing our current situation. America needs to pay attention to our own tribal politics.

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A must read

For all of those who love the ideals and principles of the promise of the American dream and who long to understand why it's becoming a nightmare, and who wish to gain a greater understanding of events playing out on the world stage over the past few decades, this book is for you.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-15-18

Good in parts, but patchy

Some thoughfull chapters that can generate good debates, but rather descriptive and journalistic, like an extended newspaper article.