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Publisher's Summary

You can't understand 21st-century American politics with an 18th-century brain....

In What's the Matter with Kansas? Thomas Frank pointed out that a great number of Americans actually vote against their own interests. In The Political Mind, George Lakoff explains why.

As it turns out, human beings are not the rational creatures we've so long imagined ourselves to be. Ideas, morals, and values do not exist somewhere outside the body, ready to be examined and put to use. Instead, they exist quite literally inside the brain - and they take physical shape there. For example, we form particular kinds of narratives in our minds just like we form specific muscle memories such as typing or dancing, and then we fit new information into those narratives. Getting that information out of one narrative type and into another - or building a whole new narrative altogether - can be as hard as learning to play the banjo. Changing your mind isn't like changing your body - it's the same thing.

But as long as progressive politicians and activists persist in believing that people use an objective system of reasoning to decide on their politics, the Democrats will continue to lose elections. They must wrest control of the terms of the debate from their opponents rather than accepting their frame and trying to argue within it.

This passionate, erudite, and groundbreaking book will appeal to readers of Steven Pinker and Thomas Frank. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in how the mind works, how society works, and how they work together.

©2008 George Lakoff; (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"His conclusion - that if citizens and policy-makers better understand brain functioning, hope exists to ameliorate global warming and other societal disasters in the making - will be of vital importance and interest to all readers." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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One of the most important political books

This book explains how a someone can talk to people with the same beliefs and go over the heads of the opposition without them realizing it. It exposes the trap of getting your opposition to use the same terms (frames), which actually strengthens your own position.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Marcin
  • Radom, Poland
  • 02-19-13

Good story, unacceptable performance

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kent Cassella?

There are many very good narrators and all of them would fit. Unfortunately, Kent Cassella made a very bad job here. I don't know any other of his performances and I hope I won't have to know. This was probably the worst narration I have ever listened to. One could think that Kent Cassella is going to win a sort of fast-reading grand prix.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very good book; poorly prepared reader

What did you like best about The Political Mind? What did you like least?

I like Lakoff's ideas, and I think everyone can benefit from carefully considering his approach to framing. The reading was distractingly poor.

What did you like best about this story?

The ideas are important. I taught critical thinking in college for about 20 years, and I wish I had had some of Lakoff's ideas about framing for those courses.

How could the performance have been better?

The reader should have prepared himself a little by learning how to pronounce a good many of the words he mispronounced, and by finding a smoother way to deal with attribution sprinkled through the book. I found the reading distractingly poor

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

An absolute must read before the 2012 elections

The true test of this book is to ask your conservative friends (if you have any) to read it. As the other reviewer says it will make them insanely mad. To me it's the proof that the facts in this book are so well researched and based on so much hard science that it touches a nerve. If you've ever wanted to know why the country is in such a bad state and why the right wing is spinning out of control (tea party fanatics, etc.) it all explained here in great detail. Personally, it opened my eyes to a lot of political changes that I was appalled by but could not explain rationally. Like why would anyone living in poverty vote to give the rich and large corporations huge tax breaks. Or why can't the democrats get their message across as well as the republicans do? George Lakoff is not a politician or a demagog. He's a hardcore researcher. And although you can definitely tell which way he's leaning politically, he is meticulous and methodical in his approach. Sometimes to a point where the casual reader may be overwhelmed with the science-based explanations. But hey, that's how you get to the bottom of it. This is the book you must read as we approach the 2012 elections. Once you do, everything becomes crystal clear.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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this book changed my life.

Any additional comments?

The book helped me see politics in a whole new light. This is a must read for anyone interested in making an affective case for their political views that has the potential to change people's minds.

  • Overall
  • Greg
  • Lansing, MI, USA
  • 12-17-08

Rant in sheeps clothing

If you are a Conservative - don't buy this. It will make you instantly mad. I am not one, but I was annoyed that I learned more about the authors political views than about the Political Mind. Once I sifted through it there was some very good content, just way too much packaging. For me anytime someone is so over the top one-sided it's hard to trust their judgment. Even though I agree with him! So maybe you shouldn't trust me?

7 of 26 people found this review helpful