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You're More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen
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You're More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Is this the America you want? If not, here's how to claim the power to change your country.

We are in an age of epic political turbulence in America. Old hierarchies and institutions are collapsing. From the election of Donald Trump to the upending of the major political parties to the spread of grassroots movements like Black Lives Matter and $15 Now, people across the co
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by PublicAffairs
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Jacqueline Silva read it for my government class.. I think it is.

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bianca guerrero
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I know Eric is describing this book as a guide to citizen power but I think it's better described as a framework for thinking about organizing. If you're one of those people who freaked out after Trump and are looking to get involved but have clue how, this book is a great starter kit. Three things I appreciated most:
-Eric uses a variety of examples from Dems, Republicans, Libertarians, and unnamed left movements to illustrate points. I learned about a few of issues I hadn't heard about before
Robert Wechsler
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
An excellent, readable book about power: how we think of it, what it actually is, and how we can wield it. This book is designed to close the gap between the rhetoric of revolution and the actual changes in values, systems, habits, and skills that are needed. Liu's goal is to help people make better demands and then make them a reality.

Liu provides the expected laws and rules of a how-to book, but his are both intelligent and well supported with arguments and examples, both historical and contem
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I've been looking for since the November 2016 election. Liu starts with some inspirational stories about activists who successfully organized for a specific cause, then presents some principles about how you can take action too. Some of the language early on in the book feels unpleasantly New Age-y to me, especially the parts about "creating power," but the explanations themselves are clear and all of it is grounded in useful examples.

Liu concludes that cynicism and disengagemen
Dana Sweeney
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is a lot of really useful material in this book; it provides a solid framework for thinking about how we can activate and network the latent civic power of each person and it primes us think strategically about how to leverage power as underdogs facing down large institutions or challenges. The text is very well organized. I appreciate that Liu boils down his several theses into concise, bulleted arguments and then uses the chapters to reiterate & expand upon those points. Because of this ...more
Apr 25, 2017 marked it as to-read
"For decades, civic educators and activists have wondered what it would take to get a greater number of Americans more involved in self-government. All it took, it turns out, was a bombastic, authoritarian, nativist president whose erratic behavior and executive overreach made him a vivid threat to democratic norms and the Constitution." Eric Liu in the WashPost.
Julian Dunn
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first saw Eric Liu speak at the 2018 Code for America Summit in Oakland earlier this year, and I was intrigued enough by his brief talk to pick up this book. Liu provides a concise framework for effective citizen organizing, or what he unabashedly refers to as exercising power. He defines power as the ability to compel others to act as you would want them to act, something that I'm sure makes many on the left squeamish. Basically, his message to them is "get over it" although he couches it in ...more
"Whether you live in a democracy that's become sclerotic and corrupt, like ours, or an authoritarian society that wants to control what you do and learn, it is important to remember that others don't take our power so much as we give it away. We give it away by not organizing or participating, out of a fatalistic sense that it doesn't matter, that 'my vote won't count anyway.' But mark well: there is no such thing as not voting. Not voting IS (ital) voting--to hand power to others, whose interes ...more
Benjamin D.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love this book. I agree with the premise, but it actually made me more hopeless. Here's the main problem: if you're going to fill a book with anecdotes of regular people making a difference, you need to find more where they win. Most of them are undecided (often unlikely to succeed) or actually tales of defeat dressed up to sound still-inspiring. Partway through the book I started saying, "But they didn't change anything..." after nearly every story. And THEN I realized that, at some ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
When I started this book, I thought it was going to be 5 stars all the way. Unfortunately, like many books of its kind, it over-promised and under-delivered. I appreciated the new way of looking at power and the strategies for reclaiming a citizen's power. Most of the text was a concept plus an anecdote of the concept, which makes for good reading, but isn't really a "guide to making change happen." This is more of a "nugget of thought to get the juices flowing." Or something. I don't feel like ...more
Trevor Gardner
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Our nation has gone mad. I enter each day feeling overwhelmed by the lack dignity exemplified by our political leadership, by the absence of critical thinking required to hold transformative civic discourse, and, ultimately, by the amount of suffering being forced upon and endured by so many as a result of a seemingly unassailable commitment to the pursuit of individual interests.

Eric Liu’s new guide, You’re More Powerful than You Think is both a breath of hope and a concrete set of tools to hel
Apr 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I had heard of Liu in regards to his previous books but wasn't inclined to pick up any of his titles until coming across this one. At the time I found it I was also still in the midst of deciding what to do and where we were going from here in the post-2016 election time. It sounded like this was a book that might be a good read.

Liu looks at movements and some of the mechanics of how they work. Their goals, their use of power (plus a breakdown of power and its structures, use, how it can be effe
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. In an effort to broaden my reading scope, I gave this book a go. Liu takes a shotgun approach to explaining how citizens can create power for themselves through a handful of big ideas and a litany of examples. These examples of individuals and organizations who made/are making a difference are often powerful yet overwhelming and superficial. There is no depth in the examination of these various examples of "power," and indeed the book is a relati ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An anti-apathy tract, this book contains aspirational and practical advice that's aimed at helping you feel that it's worth it to get involved.

"In politics, power is usually seen as a zero-sum game--your gain has to be my loss, because there's a fixed amount of power in the system .But that is a law of thermodynamics, not civics. Citizens in fact can create power out of thin air--without taking it from anyone else--and often do. There is no limit on the amount of power in a polity. Power is pos
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: individuality
Power creates monopolies and winner take all.
Change the game: adjust the arena, re rig the rules, attack the plan,.

Power creates a story as to why this is legitimate.
Change the story: describe the alternative, organize in narratives, make your fight a fable.

Power is assumed to be finite and zero sum.
Change the equation: act exponentially, act reciprocally, perform your power.

Are your actions meant to get more people onto the political and economic playing field or to protect those who today dom
Lisa DeWaard
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a nice, short, easy to read book about how we have the ability to weild the power that exists in the universe. It provides an excellent framework for citizens who want to take action regarding issues in our country. It provides concrete examples of different types of activisim both past and present and represents a vast majority of the different types of people in our country. I have to admit this isn't the type of book I would normally pick up and read, but with a lot of the current ha ...more
i loved the first 1/3 of this book!! the commentary was awesome and it made me feel empowered.

however, the mail downfall for me would be the “guide” to citizen power part. almost 1/2 of the book was this “guide” with “strategies.” but Lin did more storytelling than teaching. anecdotes are important to provide real life examples of something, and i enjoyed hearing about the successes of citizen power around the US. but sometimes it was overbearing, and a bit dry.

i’m glad i picked this out thoug
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Eric Liu's thoughts and approach to breaking down power to identify steps to change.

This book identifies specific examples such as the Fight for $15 and Seattle Jail Fight as ways people have enacted change. It also defines power and power structures and breaks down what power is. By defining it and the frameworks power exists in the book also offers support and ideas for reimagining and redistributing power.

This is a great read that goes beyond community organizing and shows that
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The recent imposition of trade tariffs by an obstinate Trump administration and the reciprocating adverse measures announced by his Mexican and Canadian counterparts (with the EU sure to soon follow suit) has not only triggered a global concern about an impending trade war but has also set off a panic whose potential backlash could be to say the least ominous. While the whole world seems to be prepared to engage in a deadly ‘who blinks first’ game of attrition, Mr. Eric Liu’s new book, “You’re M ...more
W.L. Bolm
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a good, easy to read book on power and organizing. It had good, concrete examples of citizens from all walks of life who managed to make a difference, and it included clear ways to change the equation of power in your favor. It's a good resource for people interested in getting involved in their communities and around issues they're passionate about. I just hope it catches on.
Stephen Rynkiewicz
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Successful organizing campaigns try to change the game, the narrative or the win-lose equation. These are rhetorical ideas at heart, and a former Bill Clinton speechwriter is comfortable explaining them. The result is a business self-help book with the genre's typical strengths and weaknesses, but written for workers, not executives.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book and took a lot away from it. The best part was the discussion on power and the idea that power is infinite.

Oddly, the book is a bit boring at the beginning but keep reading as it seems to keep getting better throughout.

Examples are given throughout the book but I wish the had been longer and more in-depth.

Worth checking out!
Dan Cotter
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Decent book on citizen power and initiative. Like many books in this vein, lot of rules and then after reading, the citizen can emerge and be effective. It is likely not so simple, but the book does give a good structure.
Vyki Englert
Nov 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: urbanism, civic
If you've lived under a rock and never cared about advancing any issue this is new or interesting? This book shallowly summarizes grassroots movements without offering any insightful analysis or practical application.
Sara Hindi
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! I wish I read it earlier on in my career or even when I was in college. It makes people who are not necessarily in position of power to realize they can have a positive impact, whether it is big or small. Every action step matters.
Lauryn Wishowski
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was so informative. It really helped me understand how to read power and what should come of it. The only problem I had was it could be uncomprehensible sometimes. I loved how he used examples to drive the point home.
Alice Sather
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, thought-provoking, and very readable guide for those of us who see the need for serious change and re-direction in this country, and desire guidance in order to become effective.
The Beloved Book Lover
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Coming Soon
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf
Liu has penned a very powerful (and useful) book about . . . power. Where to find it, how to grow it, how to use it. It's empowering!
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is a great framework for taking action in your community. I'm fortunate to have greatly interacted with author Eric this year and he practices what he preaches here.
Kid 🌻
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
deeply inspired me. had many revelations while reading this one - an incredibly effective call to action.
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“The Bechdel-Wallace test is a similarly simple device, created by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel and her friend Liz Wallace, for evaluating whether movies and television shows perpetuate gender inequity. Does a film have at least two named women in it, talking to each other, about something other than a man? A depressingly large number of films and shows fail the test. But it does more than scold. It suggests an alternate reality—an achievable one—in which women have an equal presence in mass popular culture, and the screen represents more than just the gaze of a (non-feminist) man.” 2 likes
“If you want to change the story that justifies current structures of power and privilege, you must have such a combination of bold goals and specific steps.” 2 likes
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