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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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  • Overall
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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.

5 of 6 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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This book is a must read.

This book really explains what's going on in our country today and puts it into perspective it is unbiased and shows us from both sides why we're really more like. It's a must read for today

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Fascinating!

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time! It’s so insightful and really got me to think more deeply about my own tribal tendencies. I’ve recommended it to a bunch of friends, particularly the audiobook bc this narrator was great

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Chua at her best.

A mostly objective view of the rise of identity politics and tribalism. This book is phenomenal, riddled with examples, and Chua, herself, showcases America at her intellectual best.

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Puts a lot things together

Amy is best known for her book on raising her kids, but this book is quite different. She shows understanding if not mastery of social-political situations from many cultures to support her thesis of some form of tribalism being the root of so much conflict. The pattern of that tribal worldview seems to be repeatable, including in the US now. While defining the issue and she is hopeful of a resolution but does not give a specific plan, only episodes of individuals overcoming or at least dealing with the barriers between folks otherwise so close to them.
Performance was excellent

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Not really scholarly work, but still interesting

Would you consider the audio edition of Political Tribes to be better than the print version?

Knowing that the author is a professor, I was expecting a scholarly book, one that is based on research and science, something like the books by J. Haidt or D. Kahneman. This book turned out to be more like what would Gladwell or Friedman write: some summary of research by others, some personal observations and opinions, and a great engaging writing style.

NEVERTHELESS, I found it to be a very worthy read.

First, it is a very compelling message. The "political tribes" message is not new, but it is very nicely summarized here.

Second, I found the description of the different "political tribes" around the world and in the U.S. to be very informative.

A more scholarly writing on the topic, if I may suggest a follow up, would be The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

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Thought provoking

a great listen. well performed. thought provoking. would recommend. why require a minimum number of words, dumb.