A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING OUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND REDUCING OUR US-VS-THEM DIVIDES
By Zachary Elwood
ABOUT THE BOOK
America is deeply divided. We don't just disagree on the issues; we increasingly view people on the "other side" as profoundly immoral, often even dangerous. And our fear and anger feed into our stances on issues, making us more hardened in our views and less willing to compromise.
There’s a chance our problems will get a lot worse before they get better. To avoid worst-case outcomes, we need more people—from politicians to reporters to everyday citizens—to see the nature of our divides more clearly.
This book examines the roots of our anger, showing that many of the reasons for our anger at the other side are based on distorted views. The more we can understand each other and see how most of us are not the monsters we imagine, the more sane and happy we'll be.
Get the ebook
Watch (and share) a video
I made a 20 minute video aimed at explaining the problem of us-vs-them polarization and addressing common objections and misunderstandings.
"When we treat others with anger and disgust, we drive them further away from our reality; we aid them in building their own narrative where we are the villains."
- from Defusing American Anger
"Culture wars are different than real wars: the more you attack the other side, the more you strengthen it."
- Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist
“I can’t think of anyone I’ve seen who better practices what they preach, who better lives their ideals about depolarization. His book has an earnest, vulnerable, plainspoken style which parallels his speaking style in his podcasts. He seems throughout to anticipate negative reactions from readers on both the left and the right, and urges patience. He admits to being 'more on the liberal side' himself, but as he analyzes the rhetoric surrounding each issue, it’s clear that he is genuinely detached from the partisan claims and is doing his best to be evenhanded and dispassionate at all times.”
- David Foster, Executive Director of Know The System, Inc. (read full review)
you'll appreciate this book if...
You think our us-versus-them anger has gotten out of control and want to know what you can do to help with that problem.
You're angry at the "other side" but want to understand why they think what they think.
Your job requires you to understand or speak to people on the "other side."
You want to have less angry, more productive conversations with politically opposed family members and friends.
You're a political activist and want to be able to make more persuasive arguments to people politically different than you.
You're engaged in political depolarization endeavors and want some new ideas (for example, how to overcome some common objections).
Get the book
I've made an early version of the book available here, as an ebook. When you get it, you'll receive notifications about any revisions I make to it (one of benefits of ebook). I appreciate any feedback you have, of whatever sort: use the contact form to send that.
The book comes with an EPUB file and a PDF file. The EPUB format is highly recommended: it's a much better reading experience than PDF. You can find many free EPUB readers and your device likely has something to open EPUB files. If you have Kindle, it's easy to forward the EPUB file to your Kindle email address (for info on that, search for 'send epub file to kindle').
ABoUT the author
Zachary Elwood is the host of the psychology podcast People Who Read People. For that podcast, he's interviewed many experts on topics related to our us-versus-them polarization and the psychology behind our divides (see the politics-related episodes).
His research into deceptive online activity has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and more.
He's a former professional poker player and the author of Reading Poker Tells, which has been translated into eight languages, and other books.
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