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Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  865 ratings  ·  200 reviews

To get ahead today, you have to be a jerk, right?

Divisive politicians. Screaming heads on television. Angry campus activists. Twitter trolls. Today in America, there is an “outrage industrial complex” that prospers by setting American against American, creatinga “culture of contempt”—the habit of seeing people who disagree with us not as merely
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Broadside e-books (first published March 2019)
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Let me start with a story.

Back in 2001, I worked for the U.S. Census Bureau. Many people don't know that the Census Bureau does much more than simply count the number of people in the US every ten years. There are ongoing surveys that Americans are asked to participate in. During my years with the Census Bureau, I went to people's homes and asked a list of questions for various government surveys about employment, housing starts, income, health, and many other important topics. The specific data
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
" . . . I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get?" -- Matthew 5:44-46

Brooks' Love Your Enemies discusses how communication between opposing sides - often, but not always, in the American political landscape - has broken down and has become entrenched in
Mar 15, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Brooks wrote another book?!

Betsy Robinson
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little less than halfway through this book when I was anticipating encounters with people who were likely to disagree with me—not enemies, but simply people who would have a different take on things than I did. I'm more okay with this at age 68 than I was when I was younger, but there is still a part of me that wants everyone to see things as I do. I had just read the bit in this book about how everybody wants dignity and in order to bridge your own biases and treat people with dignity, ...more
Mark Alexis
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
It has been my conviction for a while now that social media and the daily phony outrages they help spur are rewiring our brains as we speak and make us more stupid. (Ever been on Twitter? Yeah.) Moreover, reading the drivel passing for political insight on our feeds makes us desperate to avoid the latest spat involving President Trump when we talk to these Facebook philosophers at an uncle’s birthday party. Better to change the topic to, say, the Patriots’ ‘Deflate Gate’. It’s bound to get some ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
So I was very skeptical about reading this book, in large part because I can't help being very suspicious of anyone who has served as president of the American Enterprise Institute. Also, I feel like Brigham Young University (my employer) loves Arthur Brooks, and for some reason that kind of annoys me and heightens my suspicion of him. But it's a book about building bridges (and promoting understanding), which is a large part of my profession, and I was intrigued after hearing an interview ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
As far as I’m concerned this should be considered obvious, common-sense human decency. But obviously it isn’t. Well written, I think a bit better than Van Jones’ “Beyond the Messy Truth” which I’d put in exactly the same category. But both books would be perfectly understandable to a high school student, I think - I’d like to read something in this vein that was just a bit deeper.

All that being said, I sure wish I lived in a world where a greater percentage of politicians, pundits, and other
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Essentially a secular presentation of Romans 12. If you're already an evangelical Christian, you'll recognize 90% of the book in the New Testament's teachings and the life of Christ.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book! Arthur Brooks is calling on all of us to stand up and help change the culture in our country today. We live in a culture of contempt. We need kindness and love. We need to see people as people, hear their stories, disagree better, and seek truth and love together. Here are some great quotes:

"'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bounds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from
Timothy Hall
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A bracing challenge to the contempt-mongers in current political life, who believe their own actions are motivated by benevolence and those of their political opponents are based on hate. This book by a prominent conservative spokesman will probably not influence liberals to stand down from today's "culture of contempt," since it centers its main argument in the value of a competition of ideas. But it will be worthwhile if it persuades any significant number of conservatives to retreat from ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Arthur Brooks provides a good overview of the disconnect and contempt we have too often for those not in our tribe.

He provides practical recommendations on how to improve this situation. We should talk to one another more and not stay in our ideological bubble so we get to know others. and not build up contempt but rather focus on loving one another.

This is an essential element in any relationship, as God is love. Let us love one another and battle ideas and not each other. In short, love your
George P.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arthur C. Brooks opens Love Your Enemies with a personal anecdote about a speech he gave to conservative activists in New Hampshire. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, so the audience for the speech was “an ideological home-field crowd” for him. Among other things, he talked about how the American public perceives liberals as “compassionate and empathetic” and argued that conservatives should earn that reputation too.

After the
Kate Walters
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think every American ought to read this book, as its message could benefit everyone. It has a fantastic combination of both wisdom & humor, of scientific data & personal experience. Bravo! ...more
Over the last 25 years, I've been learning, growing, and evolving in my ability and understanding of peacemaking. That evolution began with my training and practice as a mediator, then with explorations into the practices of dialogue, and finally with my efforts at my college to help the students in our leadership development program understand that leadership effectiveness isn't just about business success, but is more about positive impact on others.

Along the way, I have collected various
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-again
I hate coming across a book that I want people to read so badly that I don't know how to write a review of it. Like, I want this review to be perfectly persuadable so people that wouldn't normally read this book give it a chance. I have been a fan of Arthur C. Brooks for a number of years after hearing him speak. He is doing wonderful work and I hope continued success for him and his mission. I, at heart, am a peacemaker. I loooove helping build bridges and people who don't normally talk start ...more
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I almost never give 5 stars, but I really loved this book. Being so very tired of the political divide in our country and not seeing an end in sight, where I can almost begin to imagine another civil war, to say I've been discouraged by the rhetoric would be an understatement. I am reminded and encouraged that it begins with me. I'm never going to be the face of a movement, but hopefully I can at least contribute to a proper and healthy discussion with others so that both sides are sharpened and ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
The author makes some good points in how to go about reestablishing lines of civil communication with those we strongly disagree. However, the author falls into the trap of making false equivalencies. Apparently, in the author's view, we all want more or less the same thing for this country, but just have different viewpoints on how to get there. But this philosophy works in the abstract, not in the real world, where the consequences of policies espoused and carried out by the leaders supported ...more
Courtney King
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: improvement
WOW. Adding this one to my list of all-time favorite books.

Everything that Mr. Brooks has to say is so important. If everyone read this book, it would change the world. He makes so many good points and really helped to change my perspective. I felt so inspired to change and be better by the end.

Also, the author is surprisingly funny! His writing and very enjoyable to me.

I plan to read more of Mr. Brooks’ works! And will probably be re-reading this one again soon too!
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Progressive, Conservative, whatever, Brooks demonstrates in readable prose and with clear arguments why the current contemptuous dialogue is damaging to our democracy and inconsistent with our most fundamental democratic values. Then, most importantly, he shows how we can maintain our positions and have civil dialogue and respect for one another.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend
Books on Stereo
Apr 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
An overly verbose anecdote that is overly repetitive.
Feng Ouyang
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author, Arthur Brooks, is a well-known conservative writer. However, this book is not a conservative manifesto. Instead, the book addresses a bigger problem: the culture of “contempt” that is damaging the American democratic institution. In my view, it is a must-read for anyone engaging in political discourse, regardless of specific political positions.

The book argues against contempt and for love and engaging in the competition of ideas, at both social and personal levels. The book also
Deb Melillo
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing

This book is about “how decent people can save America from the culture of contempt.” I’ve read other books that define the problem of polarization but few that offer solutions. This one is different.

Brooks takes the first 30 percent of the book to detail what he means by a “culture of contempt.” We see it not only among politicians who belittle and insult, but among family and friends whose relationships are strained, if not severed, because of opposing political views. He accurately describes
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Review of the Audiobook

Published by HarperAudio in March of 2019.
Read by Will Damron.
Duration: 6 hours, 55 minutes.

Arthur C. Brooks was the President of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute from 2008 to shortly after the publication of this book in 2019.

Brooks is deeply worried with the present level of political discourse in America. Debates where the candidates just insult one another. Derogatory comments rather than actual proposals. Look at your typical
John Brown
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished the most important book on politics I’ve read in years.


In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it is the book for our current political times.

I say this because America isn’t facing the threat of Communism, Nazism, poverty, illiteracy, or disease. ISIS and the terrorists are on the run. We’re beginning to figure out a better way of treating our LGBT brother and sisters. And we’re not poisoning ourselves with the broad-based racism or sexism of the past. Yes, there are lots of
Ned Frederick
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The current political and social climate in America frightens me. There is so much anger and contempt from both sides - I worry about where it is leading and how vulnerable it makes our fragile democratic and pluralistic society. It's exactly like witnessing road rage every day on a national scale. I’m constantly thinking that a lot of people are going to get hurt and more of the collateral damage we are already seeing seems highly likely. We all need to take a breath, step out of our ...more
Mandi Ehman
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve referred to this as a book that everyone should read in 2020, and I really do believe that. Contempt in American politics has become the norm, and it’s hurting our communities, our country, and our fight for the best ideas. This book offers a simple alternative: operate from a place of love and respect rather than contempt. With plenty of examples of people who are doing just that, it’s a hopeful, encouraging guide to turning the tide during this election year.
Bill Berg
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
A worthy read for our times by an ex-professional orchestra french horn player, a current staunch Catholic intellectual, and outgoing president of AEI,

Aurthur's thesis is that our problem is "contempt", and that in sort of a self help way by looking at how contempt damages us personally, breaks our relationships and is toxic to our country, no rational person would continue to want to wallow in it.

He is right of course, however, even though he brings in the work of Jonathan Haidt (the innate
Kyle Dubiel
Apr 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was introduced to the book while listening to NPR when Brooks was interviewed about it. I was hooked--his ideas sounded interesting.

The book starts off well--much of it mirrored what I had learned in my "Science of Happiness" class in college. His bits about the danger of anonymity on the internet are great.

But then this turned into shilling for a conservative utopia.

A lot of what Brooks uses as arguments (e.g. mob mentality as being bad for society) have already been well-known and talked
Abigale Miller
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are some major problems in the world, and there people who have opinions and policies I strongly disagree with. One of the major problems I see in day-to-day living among normal people is the refusal to talk to each other or consider other points of view. I see it in myself, too - it's so easy to feel outraged at something objectionable and dismiss the speaker as a 'bad person' from the 'other team'.
But it's this division into 'teams' that I think is so harmful. How can we make any
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine books 2 12 Nov 26, 2019 01:35PM  
Disagreeing and loving aren't mutually exclusive 1 4 Mar 08, 2019 08:22AM  

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“Anyone who can’t tell the difference between an ordinary Bernie Sanders supporter and a Stalinist revolutionary, or between Donald Trump’s average voter and a Nazi, is either willfully ignorant or needs to get out of the house more. Today, our public discourse is shockingly hyperbolic in ascribing historically murderous ideologies to the tens of millions of ordinary Americans with whom we strongly disagree. Just because you disagree with something doesn’t mean it’s hate speech or the person saying it is a deviant.” 2 likes
“We don’t have an anger problem in American politics. We have a contempt problem. . . . If you listen to how people talk to each other in political life today, you notice it is with pure contempt. When somebody around you treats you with contempt, you never quite forget it. So if we want to solve the problem of polarization today, we have to solve the contempt problem.” 1 likes
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