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Them: Why We Hate Each Other - and How to Heal

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing American Adult, an intimate and urgent assessment of the existential crisis facing our nation. Something is wrong. We all know it. American life expectancy is declining for a third straight year. Birth rates are dropping. Nearly half of us think the other political party isn’t just wrong; they’re evil. We’re the ric From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing American Adult, an intimate and urgent assessment of the existential crisis facing our nation. Something is wrong. We all know it. American life expectancy is declining for a third straight year. Birth rates are dropping. Nearly half of us think the other political party isn’t just wrong; they’re evil. We’re the richest country in history, but we’ve never been more pessimistic. What’s causing the despair? In Them, bestselling author and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our crisis isn’t really about politics. It’s that we’re so lonely we can’t see straight—and it bubbles out as anger. Local communities are collapsing. Across the nation, little leagues are disappearing, Rotary clubs are dwindling, and in all likelihood, we don’t know the neighbor two doors down. Work isn’t what we’d hoped: less certainty, few lifelong coworkers, shallow purpose. Stable families and enduring friendships—life’s fundamental pillars—are in statistical freefall. As traditional tribes of place evaporate, we rally against common enemies so we can feel part of on a team. No institutions command widespread public trust, enabling foreign intelligence agencies to use technology to pick the scabs on our toxic divisions. We’re in danger of half of us believing different facts than the other half, and the digital revolution throws gas on the fire. There’s a path forward—but reversing our decline requires something radical: a rediscovery of real places and real human-to-human relationships. Even as technology nudges us to become rootless, Sasse shows how only a recovery of rootedness can heal our lonely souls. America wants you to be happy, but more urgently, America needs you to love your neighbor. Fixing what’s wrong with the country depends on you rebuilding right where you’re planted.


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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing American Adult, an intimate and urgent assessment of the existential crisis facing our nation. Something is wrong. We all know it. American life expectancy is declining for a third straight year. Birth rates are dropping. Nearly half of us think the other political party isn’t just wrong; they’re evil. We’re the ric From the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing American Adult, an intimate and urgent assessment of the existential crisis facing our nation. Something is wrong. We all know it. American life expectancy is declining for a third straight year. Birth rates are dropping. Nearly half of us think the other political party isn’t just wrong; they’re evil. We’re the richest country in history, but we’ve never been more pessimistic. What’s causing the despair? In Them, bestselling author and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our crisis isn’t really about politics. It’s that we’re so lonely we can’t see straight—and it bubbles out as anger. Local communities are collapsing. Across the nation, little leagues are disappearing, Rotary clubs are dwindling, and in all likelihood, we don’t know the neighbor two doors down. Work isn’t what we’d hoped: less certainty, few lifelong coworkers, shallow purpose. Stable families and enduring friendships—life’s fundamental pillars—are in statistical freefall. As traditional tribes of place evaporate, we rally against common enemies so we can feel part of on a team. No institutions command widespread public trust, enabling foreign intelligence agencies to use technology to pick the scabs on our toxic divisions. We’re in danger of half of us believing different facts than the other half, and the digital revolution throws gas on the fire. There’s a path forward—but reversing our decline requires something radical: a rediscovery of real places and real human-to-human relationships. Even as technology nudges us to become rootless, Sasse shows how only a recovery of rootedness can heal our lonely souls. America wants you to be happy, but more urgently, America needs you to love your neighbor. Fixing what’s wrong with the country depends on you rebuilding right where you’re planted.

30 review for Them: Why We Hate Each Other - and How to Heal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Ben Sasse is a Republican senator from Nebraska. I do not always agree with him, but according to his book, Them: Why We Hate Each Other – And How to Heal, that's OK. This book talks about the circumstances that have exacerbated divisions in the United States, and it provides guidance for how to see commonalities among one another and overcome political rifts. I gave this book five stars because it was exactly the book I needed to read at exactly the right time. I feel that it is important to und Ben Sasse is a Republican senator from Nebraska. I do not always agree with him, but according to his book, Them: Why We Hate Each Other – And How to Heal, that's OK. This book talks about the circumstances that have exacerbated divisions in the United States, and it provides guidance for how to see commonalities among one another and overcome political rifts. I gave this book five stars because it was exactly the book I needed to read at exactly the right time. I feel that it is important to understand and follow current events, but the news often leaves me feeling angered rather than enlightened. Senator Sasse discusses why this anger exists and why many Americans see those who disagree with them as enemies. The biggest thing I took away from this book is that if anything is going to change, I have to start with myself, my family and my community. I need to gain a deeper understanding of an issue instead of reading the snippet that Facebook provides me. I need to spend more time in a technology-free zone with my family, and I need to remember that there is a lot more to a person than his or her political views. This is a valuable book that I will come back to time and again to keep me focused on what America’s all about. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marc Sims

    I double-dog-dare a politician to write a better book. This book isn't about politics (though politics come up) but is about the cracking and splintering we all have felt in our society's alarmingly fracturing world. Senator Sasse argues that we are living in a truly unique and revolutionary time; a time that will be written down in history books for future generations to look back upon; a time where America is teetering on the precipice of some great, terrible, and awesome changes. His aim in t I double-dog-dare a politician to write a better book. This book isn't about politics (though politics come up) but is about the cracking and splintering we all have felt in our society's alarmingly fracturing world. Senator Sasse argues that we are living in a truly unique and revolutionary time; a time that will be written down in history books for future generations to look back upon; a time where America is teetering on the precipice of some great, terrible, and awesome changes. His aim in this book is to call Americans back to the foundational values and ideas that America was originally founded on: the inalienable rights of all individuals, the freedom of conscience and the right to exercise it, and the robust strength of our local communities. As a professional politician, the author is surprisingly skeptical that politics has any hope of rescuing us from the worst problems we are experiencing today. Our divisive political landscape today is more of a symptom rather than the cause of our woes. The only way we as a country will be able to keep ourselves from committing societal suicide, according to the good Senator, will not come from a political knight in shining armor, but will come from (essentially) focusing on fostering a love for neighbor. A number of the major problems Sasse highlights are... -The pervasive problems of loneliness and the absence of meaningful community among most Americans today, and the way technology is used as a further means of keeping people at a distance (sitting at home alone, binging on Netflix while we flick through our Newsfeed rather than having neighbors over for dinner). He argues that our opioid epidemic is primarily fueled by a loneliness epidemic. - Our addiction to "politatainment." We all, supposedly, hate how ugly the rhetoric of politicians has become, but at the same time (according to the ratings) we apparently love it. Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, there is nothing we love being outraged over more (and announcing that outrage on social media) than outrage at politicans. Sasse reminds us that what happens on Twitter or cable news is not a good depiction of what most of America actually looks like. - Our inability to learn from people we disagree with or enter into meaningful, constructive dialogue. We all just want to "own" idiots in Twitter fights. - The complex future and economy that technology is bringing and our need to be able to adapt to it. We ought to be more suspicious of every new shiny piece of technology that comes out, waiting to see what consequences come with this new gadget. But we also need to prepare our economy and workforce for the undeniable future that is coming with new innovations such as self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, etc. - The absence of strong families, or at the very least, two-parent homes. Families are the building blocks of society, and the more we erode that fundamental block, the more wobbly our society becomes. Ben Sasse presents the most attractive vision of principled Conservatism I know of today. He is a Republican, but avoids the common dog whistles, mud flinging, and screeds one usually (at least recently) associates with Republicans. And yet, while he is critical of President Trump (he voted third-party in 2016), he doesn't swing to the opposite screeching and arm-flailing commonly associated with Democrats. He is driven by ideals, philosophy, theology--not an "anti-tribe" polemical groupthink. This book is not a Republican manifesto. A Bernie Sanders Democrat could read this book and heartily agree with the majority of what is written. It is a book about the problems in the souls of Americans. A problem that, if not remedied, while sink our Republic under the waters of destruction. I think Senator Sasse's book is exactly what we need today. I hope everyone reads it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    E

    I'll read anything Ben Sasse has to write. Anything. The man is a thinker. He has peered into the future and seen what America needs to do to be prepared for the immense challenges facing her. In this book he deals particularly with the issue of tribalism. He blames loneliness, social media, and news programs who seek to entertain and divide. But this is no glib screed against the dangers of Facebook (which are real enough). He has pondered deeply why some people are so lonely with their smart p I'll read anything Ben Sasse has to write. Anything. The man is a thinker. He has peered into the future and seen what America needs to do to be prepared for the immense challenges facing her. In this book he deals particularly with the issue of tribalism. He blames loneliness, social media, and news programs who seek to entertain and divide. But this is no glib screed against the dangers of Facebook (which are real enough). He has pondered deeply why some people are so lonely with their smart phones and Sean Hannity. He has considered how we can ween ourselves off of the need for instant electronic affirmation of our every move. How we can love our fellow neighbor (he is very big on localism in the old-fashioned sense). How we can be challenged by other view points instead of demonized (or to demonize them in return). As far as I am considered, Sasse might be the wisest man in the Senate, even if he is one of the least senior. He is not playing game. He has good, non-governmentally-intrusive, ideas for how we can "heal," to use his subtitle. There is a strong Reformed ethic running underneath the whole book, one that popped its head up only very occasionally; but it's clear the foundation is there, and it roots his thoughts in the moral will of God, expressed through the common grace we all receive.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joe Lynn

    This book does have much good information in it, but I found it to be ultimately unsatisfying. I picked up this book as soon as I heard about it because I do respect that Senator Sasse is one of the few adults left in the Republican Party in the Senate and I wanted to hear his views. He puts the cause of the current polarization and hyper-partisanship primarily down to the reduction of community involvement. He fondly recalls the "Friday night game" environment of his home town where the communit This book does have much good information in it, but I found it to be ultimately unsatisfying. I picked up this book as soon as I heard about it because I do respect that Senator Sasse is one of the few adults left in the Republican Party in the Senate and I wanted to hear his views. He puts the cause of the current polarization and hyper-partisanship primarily down to the reduction of community involvement. He fondly recalls the "Friday night game" environment of his home town where the community came together to cheer on the local high school teams. Since Senator Sasse's father was a high school coach, he and his family were in the thick of it, and I think this gave Senator Sasse a somewhat distorted view of the extent of community. His father naturally got to know many more people in the community than most because of the nature of his profession. But I do agree that community was different back before social media added an entirely new dimension to a community's interaction and communication. People do interact with each other on a more personal level when face-to-face, and are usually more respectful. (Sadly, I think even that is eroding in the last few years). I agree that the trend towards more online communication is feeding the polarization. I did find Senator Sasse's several examples of how conservatives feel marginalized to be helpful and somewhat enlightening. I felt he was giving a balanced view until he hit the subject of free speech on campus. He explained that when protestors began to successfully suppress conservative speakers and viewpoints, conservative students responded by escalating to inviting provocateurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos. He does expressly say that Yiannopoulus does not have conservative views, and that the students promoting him are doing it out of reaction to their speech being suppressed. But he doesn't criticize or condemn that escalation, and I feel that is one of the big causes of how we are as polarized as we are: Each side feels that they need to escalate their action in response to a harm done to them. I do agree with his points that legitimate conservative speakers should be given a voice, and that there should be open debate on ideas on campus, but stopping the escalation is important too. I liked that Senator Sasse called Sean Hannity out as being a huckster who is getting rich off of fomenting fear and hate. I wish he had called out others more strongly as well (Limbaugh and Alex Jones come to mind). An angry audience is a loyal audience, but I believe that right wing pundit media has done tremendous damage to the country over the past 30 years. So I was with Senator Sasse for the vast majority of his book. I might have veered off in a slightly different direction in places, but I agree with the general gist of the book. As we neared the end of the book, Senator Sasse was putting great emphasis on the need for rational, civil discussion of the issues. However, he said twice that he was not for a compromised "mushy middle ground". I heard this to mean he is willing to talk about the issues, but don't expect him to come around to a different opinion. What is the point of the discussion then? Is it only to give him a chance to convince everyone his way is best? I found this to be extremely disappointing. Finally, he ignored the elephant in the room: He gives many examples of behavior that is driving the country apart, but fails to mention that most of them are practiced by the current resident of the White House who relishes in "owning the libs" at every opportunity, and offers no remedy to that. He can lead by example in the Senate, but when the Majority Leader supports Trump and uses any means to justify his ends, Senator Sasse's good example get lost in the noise. This was the most depressing conclusion I came to after finishing the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David West

    Ben Sasse is worth reading. He adds to an ongoing conversation about what it means to live in a democratic republic, and even more basic, what it means to live in community. There is much in this book to commend, but Sasse spent a little more time on issues of technology than I felt necessary to make his points. I also came away from the book with an underlying feeling that I needed to live in a farming town in rural America to live out the principles advocated. Sasse didn't say as much, but the Ben Sasse is worth reading. He adds to an ongoing conversation about what it means to live in a democratic republic, and even more basic, what it means to live in community. There is much in this book to commend, but Sasse spent a little more time on issues of technology than I felt necessary to make his points. I also came away from the book with an underlying feeling that I needed to live in a farming town in rural America to live out the principles advocated. Sasse didn't say as much, but the many anectdotes from his own life paint a picture of Mayberry life in rural America. Those living in different regions, or not experiencing yet the kind of community Sasse speaks of, may not fully appreciate the points behind the stories. Sasse excels when speaking about the core issues of conservatism - home and community. He give practical advice for families struggling to navigate a high tech world with children. And he rightly speaks of politics being downstream from culture. We can learn much from Sasse and the many thinkers and writers he quotes. Whether or not the answers to hating one another are found in this book, it's a worthy contribution to the discussion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Park

    Senator Ben Sasse has the antidote to heal our broken society, and it has nothing to do with politics. My full review: https://medium.com/@jpark_21/them-why...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    This is not a book about politics (if it was I would not be reading it) but that is not to say that politics does not come into play in the book. This is a book about how we became tribal and how we can start to fix that. America is unique in the fact that we are a country of immigrants and we are not a country of shared heritage but America is an idea. This means it takes work to keep her stable. Sasse's theory is that we have become tribal through the breakdown of the community. We are more in This is not a book about politics (if it was I would not be reading it) but that is not to say that politics does not come into play in the book. This is a book about how we became tribal and how we can start to fix that. America is unique in the fact that we are a country of immigrants and we are not a country of shared heritage but America is an idea. This means it takes work to keep her stable. Sasse's theory is that we have become tribal through the breakdown of the community. We are more involved in our technology and do not take the time to build face to face relationships with people. He spoke about the idea of the mobile, the rooted, and the stuck. Each of these groups of people have their own issues. I am part of the mobile group (and my family has been for generations) so it is harder understand the rooted and the stuck. This does not help us communicate and empathize with each other. I think my favorite part of the book was when he took on cable news and their part in the polarization of the country. Now there is probably very little (if anything) that Sasse and I would agree on policy wise but I could appreciate this book and the story he is trying to tell. I think I was more willing to give this book a try because of his background as an American History major and University President. This is a book more routed in history and facts as a result. If you are someone who is interested in these types of micro-history books I would suggest giving it a try (it is in the same vane as a Malcolm Gladwell book). I would also say that if you are looking for a book to validate your political view point this is not your book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Russell Reidelberger

    2 Stars=Finished the book but didn't really enjoy it 3 Starts=Enjoyed it I would give this a 2.5 if I could. There were several times that I thought about stopping the book because of the limited examples the author used to explain his point. I picked this book on the title alone. I had no clue that Ben Sasse was a senator nor that he was republican. Not that it matters, but it does tie into some of the issues I have with the book. When discussing a book about how we need to stop vilifying "them" 2 Stars=Finished the book but didn't really enjoy it 3 Starts=Enjoyed it I would give this a 2.5 if I could. There were several times that I thought about stopping the book because of the limited examples the author used to explain his point. I picked this book on the title alone. I had no clue that Ben Sasse was a senator nor that he was republican. Not that it matters, but it does tie into some of the issues I have with the book. When discussing a book about how we need to stop vilifying "them" and try to get back to a community of "us," it became frustrating when the vast majority of his examples are from a republican viewpoint. That one-sidedness reinforces a "them" mentality. He even concedes several times throughout the book that most of his examples are from the right because that is who he is and what he knows, but he self-describes himself as a historian. If he is a historian, I think he would have the skills to find examples to show how the "them" mentality is from both sides. Not doing so just seems lazy. Now that being said, I agree with almost every point that he makes. As a country, we have tribalized ourselves into very anti-"them" groups. He offers many reasons why this has happened, mainly the erosion of neighborhoods and community groups. He goes into much more detail and explanation, all of which I agree with. His argument, however, works only in a vacuum of very specific conditions. He talks of his youth being one of closeness in his hometown where everyone knew his dad and the whole community looked out for him. He argues that we need to return to that, but what if "that" was never an option? What if the community one grew up in was gang infested, drug-ridden, and untrustworthy? His solutions fit his concept of community, but he also argues the entire time that the current economy doesn't fit with his nostalgic past. Ben Sasse sounds like a very nice man with a huge heart, and let's face it, he's tackling a subject that is not easy to fix. His book definitely has made me think more about this topic, but it didn't deliver on the How to Heal of his title.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Clayton Turner

    “...ultimately it’s not legislation we’re lacking. It’s the tight bonds that give our lives meaning, happiness and hope. It’s the habits of hearts and minds that make us neighbors and friends. At the end of the day it’s love. And when a bunch of “Them” are joined by love and by purpose, “They” can become “We”.” ~ Ben Sasse, Them: Why We Hate Each Other - and How to Heal

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    A good compilation of others’ writing on social capital (or the lack thereof) in our society (e.g., Robert Putnam, Yuval Levin, et al.). I kept thinking Sasse must be reading Wendell Berry given the emphasis on place, but no Berry reference at all. One way to summarize the book: place matters, so be rooted. Be the kind of person who is rooted in a particular place and loves a particular people. For Christians, that’s fundamentally the role of the local church—and the church at its finest.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Milt

    My great frustration with this book is how correct I believe his thesis to be and how easy it could be for us as a country/nation/world to look beyond the small tribal boundaries that divide us to the greater tribal beliefs that unite us and how slim I fear the chances are that enough folks who COULD make a difference would be willing TO make a difference.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    Pretty fascinating thesis--the root of American polarization comes from the isolation caused by rapidly-advancing technologies, and thus a large part of the solution to the vile rhetoric we see in politics these days is to rebuild strong local communities. Sasse addresses other key areas that lead to polarization--including traditional media, conservative media, and social media--but this was the major one that stuck out to me. And he argued his point pretty decently. He would have been helped so Pretty fascinating thesis--the root of American polarization comes from the isolation caused by rapidly-advancing technologies, and thus a large part of the solution to the vile rhetoric we see in politics these days is to rebuild strong local communities. Sasse addresses other key areas that lead to polarization--including traditional media, conservative media, and social media--but this was the major one that stuck out to me. And he argued his point pretty decently. He would have been helped some with some more statistics and other evidence to back up some of his claims (while I tend to agree with most of the things he says, the skeptic may not be as readily convinced). However, given my presuppositions and personal experience, a lot of the things that he says rings home. I appreciated Sasse's willingness to take on both sides of the political aisle and not merely level the cannon at his political opponents--and I likewise appreciated that his argument was primarily focused on non-political elements of our society that need to be improved. His argument about how we prioritize politics way too much in our current society certainly hit home for me. So while I wasn't sure of all of Sasse's conclusions, his argument was thought-provoking, well-made, and certainly relevant given the state of our current political climate. Rating: 4 Stars (Very Good).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Russel Henderson

    It's a slender read but an important one. Sasse is a curious individual; as one of the Senate's true wonks and intellectuals and as a sometimes critic of the President he has both his fans and his detractors. But this tome, released on the heels of the horrific Kavanaugh hearings and increasing incidents of public accosting of elected officials, could not be more timely. Certainly he writes from a conservative perspective and a religious (specifically Christian) one, but the trends he outlines - It's a slender read but an important one. Sasse is a curious individual; as one of the Senate's true wonks and intellectuals and as a sometimes critic of the President he has both his fans and his detractors. But this tome, released on the heels of the horrific Kavanaugh hearings and increasing incidents of public accosting of elected officials, could not be more timely. Certainly he writes from a conservative perspective and a religious (specifically Christian) one, but the trends he outlines - increasing loneliness, the replacement of positive 'tribes' with negative 'anti-tribes', and the precipitous decline of civil society - impact us all. I don't know whether he is 100% accurate as to causality (and I'm sure the author himself would allow as much) but as an analytical framework it makes a great deal of sense. Like a good Burkean he does not propose silver bullets, only a variety of small but meaningful changes to counteract the nastiness, the loneliness, and the decline of institutions long understood to be vital to our civic health. It's a welcome addition to the conversations we need to be having, in our families, in our local communities, and beyond, as we try to adapt as people, as "little platoons", and as a polity to cultural, technological and economic trends that promise to visit upheaval upon long-held expectations about what a contented life will and should entail.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Paulson

    I really appreciate the Nebraska Senator and his sense of perspective. This book is a balanced treatment of what separates Americans, and how this occurred. He gives not only a history of America’s unity and disunity, but also the characteristics of better times and shared goals. He is not naive, and though he clearly has how own strong views on various social issues, he is much less partisan and more of an engaged participant. He presents his views of the causes for the ”us versus them” mentali I really appreciate the Nebraska Senator and his sense of perspective. This book is a balanced treatment of what separates Americans, and how this occurred. He gives not only a history of America’s unity and disunity, but also the characteristics of better times and shared goals. He is not naive, and though he clearly has how own strong views on various social issues, he is much less partisan and more of an engaged participant. He presents his views of the causes for the ”us versus them” mentality, and among his solutions is a call for greater community, especially at the local levels of society and government. Though he is a conservative Republican, his critique covers the ideological and political spectrum. Listening to an NPR interview on Monday intrigued me to add this book on Tuesday. By Saturday, I had listened to the entire book. I highly recommend it. Though I might disagree on small matters, it is none the less engaging and beneficial

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colton Myers

    tl;dr: This book is possibly the most important political book you’ll read this year. I went into this book pretty pessimistic. After reading Sasse’s op-ed on the same topic in the WSJ I was convinced he was one more out of touch Republican senator. But I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend. And I’m very glad I did. It turns out Sasse is not what I expected. The book is a surprisingly frank analysis of what divides our country. He does a really good job of calling out problemat tl;dr: This book is possibly the most important political book you’ll read this year. I went into this book pretty pessimistic. After reading Sasse’s op-ed on the same topic in the WSJ I was convinced he was one more out of touch Republican senator. But I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend. And I’m very glad I did. It turns out Sasse is not what I expected. The book is a surprisingly frank analysis of what divides our country. He does a really good job of calling out problematic behavior on both sides, and mostly leaving policy out of it. And I think he’s right on pretty much all counts. My view of him has completely flipped. We may not agree on policy, but I would be pretty hard pressed not to vote for him if I lived in Nebraska. Read the book. Whether you agree with it or not it’s a side of things that’s worth inspecting.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Everyone should read this book. Now. You don't have to agree with the author politically to benefit from reading this book (I know because I don't agree with him on everything). Senator Sasse points out a number of things we need to do in order to fix the divide our country is facing. They are fairly simple things, yet seem so difficult in this day and age. Again, a thought provoking must-read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Penny Dunn

    I loved this book and want everyone to read it! Who is your tribe? What do you stand FOR? Be a good friend and neighbor.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jake Bishop

    I really enjoyed Ben Sasse’s last book and this one is great as well. Very helpful in thinking through the issues facing our country.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    The Us V Them attitude is changing our countries dynamic. The struggles to merely survive and cope with automation are causing many hardships for Americans. The idea that having higher education will get you a secure job with above min wages and benefits is no longer a guarantee. The cost of living has increased but apparently only the top 1% would know about any increases as the rest of us struggle for 'living wages' to support our families. I would know as I hold a dual masters, 20 yrs volunteer The Us V Them attitude is changing our countries dynamic. The struggles to merely survive and cope with automation are causing many hardships for Americans. The idea that having higher education will get you a secure job with above min wages and benefits is no longer a guarantee. The cost of living has increased but apparently only the top 1% would know about any increases as the rest of us struggle for 'living wages' to support our families. I would know as I hold a dual masters, 20 yrs volunteer experience, and I cannot get a job paying above the poverty level I currently reside because I'm overqualified and lack prior work experience having given up career to raise a family in knowing my spouse (at that time) was able to secure higher wages than I with the same degree and experience. So now what? It's no wonder we are feeling the constant pressure to perform while not being paid a fair wage. Beyond all this is the constant chaos in the world today. There's no compassion, no empathy, no level of understanding or even love offered between one another. The loneliness is being constantly labeled or in being told you're not good enough is taking a toll as depression is on the rise. Divorces have also risen while births are on the decline - surprise! The only hope is to change the current course. So all I can tell you besides to pray which many of us have already done is to vote! Change the course and hope for the best. Thank you to Ben, the publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Lowry

    I’m a progressive Yellow Dog Democrat who has not supported a republican since John Anderson so reading this book was not an exercise in confirmation bias for me. I fully expected to be at odds with the author based on my assumptions about his politics and worldview. Well, you know what they say about happens when you assume! This was a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging read. While I disagree with some of his assumptions, I found no fault in his sincerity or research. Sen. Sasse provides a th I’m a progressive Yellow Dog Democrat who has not supported a republican since John Anderson so reading this book was not an exercise in confirmation bias for me. I fully expected to be at odds with the author based on my assumptions about his politics and worldview. Well, you know what they say about happens when you assume! This was a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging read. While I disagree with some of his assumptions, I found no fault in his sincerity or research. Sen. Sasse provides a thoughtful look at our current culture and a reasonable critique of it. I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself in such agreement on so many things with a leader from “the other side.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vance

    Sen. Sasse authors a well-written book that hits on many of the pressing issues of our time that hinge on tribalism, populism, and the lack of civil discourse. As a historian, Sen. Sasse takes the reader down the road of memory lane to note how philosophers and politicians have used rhetoric as a means of discussion and there have certainly been times when politics wasn’t very civil. The Us vs. Them mentality by too many in spite of the fact we are all Americans is hindering our progress to a mo Sen. Sasse authors a well-written book that hits on many of the pressing issues of our time that hinge on tribalism, populism, and the lack of civil discourse. As a historian, Sen. Sasse takes the reader down the road of memory lane to note how philosophers and politicians have used rhetoric as a means of discussion and there have certainly been times when politics wasn’t very civil. The Us vs. Them mentality by too many in spite of the fact we are all Americans is hindering our progress to a more peaceful and prosperous society. We must work together and understand our common foundations before being so quick to judge and cast counter arguments out without listening to each other. Sen. Sasse provides a good book with key insights to improve our communication with each other and ultimately how to heal from our wounds. The future of America depends on getting this right. I give it 5 stars because it’s well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with stories along the way.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Lawson

    The author, Ben Sasse, is a respected U.S. Senator for the state of Nebraska, this is his second book. Here Sasse takes on the subject of tribalism, or an Us versus Them thinking that so divides the nation. The book is divided into three parts and eight chapters. When reading this book it's helpful to understand where Sasse is coming from, he's a self-identified conservative, a Republican, and an evangelical Christian. These ideas come up throughout the book. Below I'll outline some of the thing The author, Ben Sasse, is a respected U.S. Senator for the state of Nebraska, this is his second book. Here Sasse takes on the subject of tribalism, or an Us versus Them thinking that so divides the nation. The book is divided into three parts and eight chapters. When reading this book it's helpful to understand where Sasse is coming from, he's a self-identified conservative, a Republican, and an evangelical Christian. These ideas come up throughout the book. Below I'll outline some of the things that I liked about the book and then will discuss what I found frustrating. I always look forward to reading a book that deals with the tough subject of tribalistic, us versus them, or in-group thinking and what the author finds are good solutions. Here, Sasse finds that the biggest contribution to that way of thinking is how divided we are as a nation and much of the reason for that is we no longer have close relationships with each other. Rather, technology and social media, has isolated us. We are more interested in staring at our phones and computers than communicating with each other in person and forming bonds of friendships and families. I think Sasse has hit the nail on the head and many of his practical solutions for that is discussed in the third part of his book and will leave it to the reader to probe what he says. Another positive is that Sasse is not afraid to criticize his own political party and ideological compatriots. Some of his criticism about social media are spot on especially how it allows us to shout at each other rather than working with each other. Sasse also discusses many other aspects that contribute to our divisions such as media echo chambers, our post-truth world, distrust of political institutions and the mainstream media, how no one wants nuanced discussions, rather most see things in stark black or white, and even confirmation bias and motivated reasoning and their contribution. With all that said there were many aspects of the book that I found frustrating. Foremost was his constant appeals to his conservative and religious views which to me were a bit distracting and could lower the value of the book for those who disagree with him on so many of those issues (as I do). As well, Sasse often brings in false equivalencies between Left and Right. For example, Sasse says that liberals and conservatives no longer listen to each other. Although there is an element of truth here, I think it's more correct to say that those at the extremes, especially on the right-wing side are less likely to listen to other perspectives (especially since the right-wing has become more mainstream in the Republican Party and less so with the left-wing in the Democratic Party). Another thing that Sasse says is that talk-radio personalities like Sean Hannity are all about rage and that both sides fill the airwaves with this rage. This is simply untrue, the right-wing are much more intuned to rage and talk radio than those on the Left. And honestly I think what the rage of the Hannity's and Limbaugh's is really about stoking fear and fear is the real motivator for so much of the discontent and divisiveness. One of the more perflexing things that Sasse does in his book is that he calls "us versus them" anti-tribes. But us versus them is the very definition of tribalism. Typically when someone talks about anti-tribes its within the context of rejecting that us versus them perspective. Something else interesting in the last section of his book is that Sasse suggests that we should expand our tribes. I find that intriguing because even though our goal should be overcoming tribal thinking, the fact that it's hardwired into us to think in terms of tribes that perhaps we should be expanding our tribes while attempting to overcome the whole us versus them mentality. All in all I found Sasse's book to be a mixed bag, some really good points, but also much frustrating rhetoric. But, as Sasse says, even with these disagreements we need to learn to get along with each other and build relationships with each other. With that I wholeheartedly agree.

  23. 5 out of 5

    G.F. Erichsen

    As I read parts of U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse’s newest book, Them, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the saying of the late professor Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the message. Sasse, a conservative Republican from Nebraska, doesn’t mention McLuhan, who wrote his famous book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, before Sasse was born. Yet in chapter after chapter, he extends one of McLuhan’s theses — that the form media takes, more than its content, affects society — and extends that to techno As I read parts of U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse’s newest book, Them, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the saying of the late professor Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the message. Sasse, a conservative Republican from Nebraska, doesn’t mention McLuhan, who wrote his famous book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, before Sasse was born. Yet in chapter after chapter, he extends one of McLuhan’s theses — that the form media takes, more than its content, affects society — and extends that to technology that includes social media but goes well beyond it. Them isn’t a political book, and there’s no indication that Sasse wrote Them as a way to promote a presidential candidacy in 2020 or beyond. But politics still lurks in the background (religion as well) as Sasse laments the growing polarization in public life and occasionally criticizes President Trump, more by implication than directly. Sasse’s main thesis is that Americans have become lonely, falling short on interpersonal connectedness. He doesn’t propose political solutions, and he implicitly acknowledges there aren’t any complete ones, and least not yet. Where McLuhan’s famous saying comes in is in Sasse’s extensive discussion of social and news media. One of the main problems, as he sees it, is that social media and the growing use of personal tracking-based advertising tend to create echo chambers. They also increase the human tendency to see others — the “them” of the title — as part of the other Americans, as something other than the fellow citizens they are. And sometimes the very way the media are structured serves to encourage the evaluations of the other as the enemy. It all makes for an engaging read. But two things prevent me from giving five stars to this book: First, Sasse tackles a wide array of changes in our society that be believes contribute to loneliness and other-ization, among them automation, the growth of fake news, the hundreds of TV channels available, easy access to pornography, the growth of artificial intelligence, and campus political correctness, just to name a few. He discusses an abundance of technology-related changes in culture, but he never really ties their significance together until the last chapter, which seemed a bit rushed. Second, although Sasse deplores racism, he fails to address how privilege relates to societal changes. While he hearkens back at times to more unified America, he doesn’t address the fact that there were plenty, among them racial minorities, who did not enjoy the benefits of that unity nor necessarily feel a part of it. Despite these shortcomings, Sasse offers a thought-provoking perspective on changes in American culture, changes that fall outside the usual fodder of talk radio and talking-heads TV.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    In his new book, Ben Sasse advances the thesis that an epidemic of loneliness is driving today’s toxic partisanship in the United States. He chalks this up to a dissolution of traditional community, the face-to-face relationships which have sustained people through most of our history. Instead, people turn to online tribes-what he calls “anti-tribes”-driven primarily by their fervent hatred of of their political enemies. As a liberal, I wasn’t sure whether I would like this book, but there is not In his new book, Ben Sasse advances the thesis that an epidemic of loneliness is driving today’s toxic partisanship in the United States. He chalks this up to a dissolution of traditional community, the face-to-face relationships which have sustained people through most of our history. Instead, people turn to online tribes-what he calls “anti-tribes”-driven primarily by their fervent hatred of of their political enemies. As a liberal, I wasn’t sure whether I would like this book, but there is nothing here to offend anyone, in my view. Sasse comes across as a decent, thoughtful, likable man, and quite moderate despite his protestations of rock solid conservatism. The book, however, is a bit of an idea grab bag which doesn’t entirely hold together. And I believe his overarching thesis is incorrect and not borne out by the evidence. Sasse discusses “community“ and “tribe,“ as if one could be substituted for the other. But they are fundamentally different in nature. Community is a gathering of people with some shared identity, whether geographic, religious, or affinity. Tribe, by contrast, is a community organized for self-defense. By it’s nature it is “against.“ that desire to protect one’s territory is an innate part of human psychology. It can be dialed up or down, perhaps, or pointed in a different direction, but not eliminated. More face-to-face human interaction may reduce loneliness and make people happier, but it will not reduce tribalism. Since most communities are homogeneous these days, they tend to reinforce political beliefs, not mute them. That is true of our geographic communities, which are heavily sorted, and also of our religious congregations. The main thing I found refreshing about this book was the author’s consistent defense of core American principles, such as respect for civil liberties and protection of minority rights. I think he truly believes in democracy and dislikes Donald Trump’s authoritarianism. It’s a sad commentary on today’s Republican Party that this is rare enough to merit comment. Sasse would be even more praiseworthy if he did not vote with the president 83% of the time. But he’s young man and wants a future in politics, and he clearly can’t swim too strongly against his party’s current and hope to go on winning elections.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rustin Roundy

    Anyone who writes a politically charged book, especially nowadays, is a glutton for punishment. Right from the beginning Senator Sasse says that this book is not about politics but more about the relationships between us as members of the community and how politics effects our relationships. He is careful to not really go into specific cases where he would be taking a side, but when he does , seems to use Republicans more for bad examples because he is more familiar with the GOP. Sasse suggests Anyone who writes a politically charged book, especially nowadays, is a glutton for punishment. Right from the beginning Senator Sasse says that this book is not about politics but more about the relationships between us as members of the community and how politics effects our relationships. He is careful to not really go into specific cases where he would be taking a side, but when he does , seems to use Republicans more for bad examples because he is more familiar with the GOP. Sasse suggests that we shouldn't stoop down to a lower level just because the other side is doing something nasty. In the case of Roy Moore being accused of a pedophilistic past we should have immediately dismissed due process and given the seat to Doug Jones and hopefully win the battle in the long term. But we as Republicans are sick of not having people stand up and fight for us, so we elected our own bully, Donald Trump. I still can't imagine why anyone would throw their vote away during the 2016 election out of principle. ultimately it does come down to the lesser of two evils for half the voters. those who are Jesus like would dare dismiss this obvious reality and choose to be morally superior to everyone else and throw away their vote because Trump may have done something in his personal life. The best parts of the book were when the senator discusses the future and how we will deal with new types of emerging technology as it relates to our communities. Since types of labor and work are changing rapidly this will affect the relationship between the rooted, the mobile, and the stuck. anyway, I would recommend this book to anyone who is tired of the extreme outliers of each party dictating the course of national dialogue. If you are looking for actual solutions and an explanation as to why the disappearance of community-type relationships is mainly to blame for the downfall in our society, then make the investment in this new release.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Moses Hetfield

    I don't often agree with the way Ben Sasse votes in the Senate, but I fully agree with most of what he argues in this book, and found his conservative perspective to be a refreshing change from most of the books I read. Sasse's book is fundamentally about both political polarization and the ongoing epidemic of loneliness in the United States, even as we consider ourselves to be more connected than ever in the age of social media. This is not just an old-fashioned, technophobic mindset, but rathe I don't often agree with the way Ben Sasse votes in the Senate, but I fully agree with most of what he argues in this book, and found his conservative perspective to be a refreshing change from most of the books I read. Sasse's book is fundamentally about both political polarization and the ongoing epidemic of loneliness in the United States, even as we consider ourselves to be more connected than ever in the age of social media. This is not just an old-fashioned, technophobic mindset, but rather is supported by data like increasing rates of depression and anxiety and, of course, rapidly increasing rates of substance abuse and suicide. As someone who grew up in Maryland, went to college in California, and moved to Pittsburgh this year after graduating, I appreciated the way Sasse articulated and explained my own struggles with feelings of rootlessness. Sasse's arguments about the current political climate, which he ties to his arguments about community/lack thereof, are also quite compelling. Some arguments are fairly conventional but articulately conveyed, such as his analysis of the role of social media, the internet, and cable news, but he also discusses larger societal/cultural/economic trends to reveal a bigger picture that is often missing from the conversation. While Sasse is a staunch conservative and this colors his writing, he is careful to present information in a nuanced and balanced manner, and to call out problems on his own side of the aisle (as he is famous for doing). I would highly recommend this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This book definitely goes into my Top 10 list. Senator Ben Sasse is now my favorite person on Capitol Hill. I wish him the best in his political career. However, with that said, just because I like him because of his politics, does not mean you will not like him because of his practical approach to solving the us-vs-them problem most Americans and the News Media have. Stop listening to talk radio, the nightly news, social media, and news websites. They are just feeding you hate to sell ads. This This book definitely goes into my Top 10 list. Senator Ben Sasse is now my favorite person on Capitol Hill. I wish him the best in his political career. However, with that said, just because I like him because of his politics, does not mean you will not like him because of his practical approach to solving the us-vs-them problem most Americans and the News Media have. Stop listening to talk radio, the nightly news, social media, and news websites. They are just feeding you hate to sell ads. This has always been the case, but with instant demographic feedback it has been weaponized. I suspected a lot of the things he wrote about in the book, and it was good to here it confirmed. Of course, maybe I'm guilty of confirmation bias and why I like the book so much, but I think I am an objective reader. BTW, confirmation bias is one of the things he talks about in the book. Good stuff. If you want to hate your neighbors then skip this book. If you are tired of hating your neighbors then read this book. This goes for white, blacks, conservatives, liberals, men, women, straight, gay, transgender, pro-life, pro-choice, etc. This goes for everyone. We need more Ben Saase in the world, and less Sean Hannity and Rachael Maddow. Less CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS. More loving our neighbor. It starts with us, the people of the world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Siegel

    I appreciate Ben Sasse's point of view, especially considering the fact that we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. He is talking about a very important problem which exists, the current state of tribalism, and I particularly liked how he addresses this issue in the conclusion of this book. I was not, however, happy with his approach with some of the political examples of this problem. I am torn about his role and how that affects his ability to write a book on this topic. On one hand, I think I appreciate Ben Sasse's point of view, especially considering the fact that we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. He is talking about a very important problem which exists, the current state of tribalism, and I particularly liked how he addresses this issue in the conclusion of this book. I was not, however, happy with his approach with some of the political examples of this problem. I am torn about his role and how that affects his ability to write a book on this topic. On one hand, I think it would be better for someone who is more politically neutral to write on this topic and on the other hand I liked hearing the views from the opposite end of the aisle. At one point, I felt manipulated in that he said "now I'm not trying to persuade readers to think the way I think about this topic" but then he went on to talk about how the media does not represent a large portion of the American population because they are all democrats..... As a democrat I can say that is not a good way to build trust across the aisle. The least he could have done is to use counter examples against republicans, but I didn't hear that (I listened as an audiobook). I tried REALLY hard to not be partisan with this and I really did enjoy this book, I just can't shake that I felt that he said he wasn't doing something and then he went ahead and did it anyway.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert Herschede

    Common sense... that’s not so common I enjoyed this book. I’ve felt kind of helpless in an age of intense political discord and disunity. I’ve felt myself succumbing to some of the tribalism that is so prevalent in our day. This book gave me hope that we can get back to a more respectful dialogue. I appreciated that Senator Sasse called out misdeeds from the right as well as from the left. I think too many of us are willing to throw stones... but turn a blind eye to those on “our team.” I found the Common sense... that’s not so common I enjoyed this book. I’ve felt kind of helpless in an age of intense political discord and disunity. I’ve felt myself succumbing to some of the tribalism that is so prevalent in our day. This book gave me hope that we can get back to a more respectful dialogue. I appreciated that Senator Sasse called out misdeeds from the right as well as from the left. I think too many of us are willing to throw stones... but turn a blind eye to those on “our team.” I found the book mostly common sense, but I think it is in too short supply. I wish there were more ideas on ways to solve the crisis... and I wish, although this was explicitly not a political book, that there were more discussions of policy debates. As a gay man, debates on “religious freedom” and sexual orientation carry tremendous weight to me. I found myself wondering how the Senator reconciles his beliefs about individual dignity when core identities are in conflict. There are no easy answers to be sure, but the conversation is important.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christina A. Mancini

    This book was an enjoyable read, and Sasse makes many excellent points, giving us much to think about. However, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed in it. At the end of the day, his reasons for our "them" anti-tribes is, in my opinion, a symptom of the problem, but not the problem itself. The loss of community, and the closeness of family ties, are a symptom, not the problem. The problem, as I see it, is that we as a nation no longer share the God-given truth, goodness, and beauty that la This book was an enjoyable read, and Sasse makes many excellent points, giving us much to think about. However, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed in it. At the end of the day, his reasons for our "them" anti-tribes is, in my opinion, a symptom of the problem, but not the problem itself. The loss of community, and the closeness of family ties, are a symptom, not the problem. The problem, as I see it, is that we as a nation no longer share the God-given truth, goodness, and beauty that laid the groundwork for our founding documents. There is no immutable truth in most citizens' minds, except that there is no immutable truth. Of that, most are quite certain. When a nation takes on a philosophy rooted in moral relativism -- which we have done -- our feet are planted firmly in the air. "Facts" have become personal preferences. And when somebody disagrees, even politely, with one's self-begotten personal preferences, the results are almost always ugly. We need to seek for truth, as the Founders did. Together.

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