Political Tribes Book Summary - Political Tribes Book explained in key points
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Political Tribes summary

Amy Chua

Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

4.3 (31 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Political Tribes by Amy Chua is a thought-provoking analysis of the role that group identities play in domestic and international politics. It argues that US foreign policy has failed to understand the importance of tribal identity and that this has led to costly mistakes.

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    Political Tribes
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    Humans are tribal creatures, but tribalism is an instinct that’s often forgotten.

    Why do teams, clubs and other types of groups inspire such strong emotions? Well, humans are tribal creatures by instinct. We have a strong sense of group identity. We want to share our feeling of belonging with others who are like us.

    Tribes can be centered around any number of things. But they’re not just about having something in common with others. Often, they’re just as much about exclusion as they are about inclusion.

    So how do they work?

    In the first place, they’re based on a shared bond. That can be ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, mutual interests or other commonalities.

    Secondly, tribes change the way their members think about the world. Individuals’ identities often become closely linked to that of the tribe, which makes them willing to do things for the benefit of their group that they wouldn’t do as individuals.

    Tribalism – the act of separating ourselves into tribes – is often overlooked when it comes to foreign policy. That’s a mistake. In fact, tribalism is key to understanding how to deal with countries.

    American foreign policy in particular is frequently shaped by the view that nations are homogenous. Subgroups or tribes within particular countries simply aren’t taken into account.

    That’s partly because America is a “supergroup.” It’s a country made up of many tribes united by a shared national identity. American policymakers assume that other countries also have a strong bond that overrides the tribal loyalties of their citizens.

    But, in many cases, that just isn’t true. Tribal identities frequently trump allegiance to nation-states.  

    And, as we’ll see in the following blinks, foreign policy that neglects tribalism can have devastating long-term consequences.

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    What is Political Tribes about?

    Political Tribes (2018) is an insightful study of one of today’s most pressing issues: tribalism. From postwar Iraq to Chavez’s Venezuela and Trump’s America, political life has become increasingly polarized. That’s a problem. Once people stop trying to understand each other and retreat into the safety of their own tribes, conflict becomes inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Amy Chua argues that foreign and domestic policy can defuse tensions as long as those policies are based on a sound understanding of tribalism.

    Political Tribes Review

    Political Tribes (2018) presents a thought-provoking exploration of tribalism and its impact on American politics. Here's why you should give this book a read:

    • Packed with in-depth analysis and research, it sheds light on the powerful role of identity politics in shaping American society.
    • The book examines how tribal affiliations can influence decisions and behaviors, offering valuable insights into the complexities of the political landscape.
    • Through compelling anecdotes and extensive historical context, Chua brings the topic to life, making it an exciting and relevant exploration of the subject.

    Best quote from Political Tribes

    To see the divisiveness in todays America – and the forces that brought about Trumps election – as solely about racism, while ignoring the role of inequality, misses too much of the picture.

    —Amy Chua
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    Who should read Political Tribes?

    • Anyone who’s wondered what exactly went wrong in Iraq
    • Citizens tired of endless political partisanship
    • Fans of penetrating social analysis

    About the Author

    Amy Chua is a writer, lawyer and professor at Yale Law School. Her previous books include World on Fire.

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    Political Tribes FAQs 

    What is the main message of Political Tribes?

    The main message of Political Tribes is that our tribal instincts shape our political behavior and understanding this can help us navigate the challenges of a diverse society.

    How long does it take to read Political Tribes?

    The reading time for Political Tribes varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Political Tribes a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Political Tribes is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the influence of group identity in political dynamics and provides valuable insights for understanding and navigating our increasingly divided world.

    Who is the author of Political Tribes?

    The author of Political Tribes is Amy Chua.

    What to read after Political Tribes?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Political Tribes, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Why We Remember by Charan Ranganath
    • Quiet by Susan Cain
    • Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey
    • Be Here Now by Ram Dass
    • The Leader In You by Dale Carnegie
    • Mastery by George Leonard