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

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,616 ratings  ·  370 reviews
NOW A NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

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, creating a “culture of contempt”—the habit of seeing people who disagree with us not as merely i
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 12th 2019 by Broadside 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
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Scott
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
" . . . 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
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Amy
5 stars because this is Arthur Brooks and I can't praise his message enough. And 3 for actual content.
I've seen Brooks practice what he preaches. I once worked for a nation-wide non-profit and we invited several high-profile political speakers to come to a conference put on to celebrate our volunteers. Most of the politicians spent their time throwing out red meat to rile up the audience and one even tried to convince our volunteers to go volunteer for him instead!
Then Arthur Brooks got up. And
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Carmel Hanes
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, this title will likely put a lot of people off this book. In our current polarized and enraged culture, it's hard, if not impossible, to think about "loving our enemies". The past few years have seen a record number of people stop speaking to each other; family, friends, coworkers, neighbors. I suspect we'd rather trip them and egg their houses than "love" them. We might even feel we've taken the high road to just stop speaking to them, since we can conjure up so many ways to expr ...more
Mark Alexis
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
Betsy Robinson
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Irene
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brooks, a prominent voice in moderate conservative politics, calls for civility and respect in the public exchange of ideas. I could not agree more with his assessment of our contemporary culture of contempt. He claims that we have reached a point of vitriol and contempt in politics that is unhealthy for society and for the individuals engaged. He calls for a climate in which opposing ideas can be argued without derogative name calling, impugning selfish or evil motivations, automatic disqualify ...more
Heather
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 e
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Benjamin
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Brook ...more
Timothy Hall
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 trib ...more
Steve
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 le
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Samuel
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Samcwright
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m probably giving this five stars because the message in this book resonates so strongly in our current divisive climate. Whether you strongly support #blacklivesmatter or #alllivesmatter or you support Trump or Biden or whomever, we would all do well to internalize the message in this book. Read it. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
Greg
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 boo
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Adam
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t ...more
Kim
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Vance
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Courtney King
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Kate Walters
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! 👏🏻
thethousanderclub
Years ago I used to scoff at the accusation that our time was the most divisive since the Civil War. I quickly recalled historical occurrences of incivility—violence during the federalist and anti-federalist debates or guffaws during Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union speeches. Our time is no different, I reasoned. (I realize now that this historical reasoning is stupid; pointing to episodes of violence or disrespect in the past does nothing to validate similar behavior today). I feel de ...more
Tyler Critchfield
"Almost no one is ever insulted into agreement."

Incredible. Arthur Brooks spoke at my graduation commencement and shared some of these thoughts with us - I was captivated then and I'm still hooked. This book is a must-read. Despite coming out just last year, this book is even more applicable now in 2020 (and we haven't even hit election season yet). Brooks calls for a revolution of loving those with whom we disagree. This is done not by avoiding disagreement, but by fundamentally changing how we
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Brad Rees
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful book, and contains many of the antidotes to the culture of contempt we see today.

Some of the ideas the author shared that resonate with me include:

Finding common ground starting with the “why” before the “what”.

We don’t need to demonize those we disagree with.

Fake kindness and empathy until it becomes natural.

Show gratitude for those with differing opinions. Shouldn’t we be grateful that in the US we don’t have a one party system?
Marissa
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! Contempt is ruining the United States. I have often said that people can't seem to talk to those they disagree with. The stories in this book and the easy tips have inspired me to disagree with kindness. ...more
George P.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 s
...more
Alicia
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Arthur Brooks’ graduation speech (which was a very condensed version of this book) given at BYU last year. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSflt...) This 2019 book is a great reminder to all of us to show love to all people, engage with those who disagree with us, and eliminate contempt from our lives.

“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 ig
...more
Kyle Dubiel
Apr 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 abo
...more
jeffrey
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author makes some good points on how to go about reestablishing lines of civil communication with whom we strongly disagree. However, he 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 by those ...more
Tom
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Books on Stereo
Apr 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An overly verbose anecdote that is overly repetitive.
Josh
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine books 2 12 Nov 26, 2019 01:35PM  
Disagreeing and loving aren't mutually exclusive 1 5 Mar 08, 2019 08:22AM  

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61 likes · 5 comments
“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.” 7 likes
“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.” 5 likes
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