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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 ·  212 ratings  ·  32 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
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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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
Peter Mcloughlin
Not bad in terms of describing how power justifies itself and how one should be skeptical of the powerful. It gives a few types but it was still kind of abstract. I wish it was a longer book it needed a fleshed out treatment. It was a little too bare bones.
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
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 ...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 ...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
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bibliocase
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 ...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
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
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 ...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
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
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 ...more
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!
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.
Vyki Englert
Nov 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: civic, urbanism
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.
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.
The Beloved Book Lover
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Coming Soon
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.
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!
Rachel Parrott
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Liu provides an examination of power, its nature and how to use it. As he goes through many aspects of power and how it works, many real life examples are provided to illustrate that indeed "You're More Powerful than You Think."

My copy was a gift through Goodreads First Reads.
hope this will definetly teach something intresting
Kathy Duffy
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
Wow! Seriously this should be required reading for every high school and college student.... this is so much more relevant than what I was taught in civics class. It uses current problems in American Society such as more than half of the federal tax breaks flow to the wealthiest 5 per cent or the various Lives Matter campaigns and digs down to the way they gain traction as organization, how they change the message that had been given as justification for exclusivity. Eric Liu tells you how to ...more
Aug 17, 2018 added it
There are interesting explorations of power through various metaphors as well as potentially useful frameworks for creating change through alternative means to authoritative power. I'm not sure the book as structured is the most fruitful way to communicate the ideas and patterns of power described in the book. I almost wish it existed and was structured more as a playbook or a deck of cards to draw from.

The central ideas I think are valuable and I wish they were distilled to me as a high school
Political tension and uncertainty can produce feelings of helplessness amid injustice and dramatic change. While such thinking is understandable, Eric Liu (A Chinaman's Chance) presents effective strategies for individuals and groups to harness their potential by amplifying their voices and elevating causes.

Read more of my review on Shelf Awareness:
Apr 15, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting take on framing, creating a narrative, and resource organizing that indirectly draws on the existing scholarship on social movements. The author has a distinct liberal-leaning background but valiantly attempts to incorporate case studies from across the ideological spectrum to show that success is worth learning from in a methodological sense, regardless of if one agrees with the underlying values or goals espoused by the actor.
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