If you want to understand the politics of the moment and the forces underlying the current state of the nation, this deeply researched and clearly argued analysis is the essential book. Period. Full stop. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
This New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller shows us that America's political system isn't broken. The truth is scarier: it's working exactly as designed. In this "superbly researched" (The Washington Post) and timely book, journalist Ezra Klein reveals how that system is polarizing us — and how we are polarizing it — with disastrous results.
"The American political system — which includes everyone from voters to journalists to the president — is full of rational actors making rational decisions given the incentives they face," writes political analyst Ezra Klein. "We are a collection of functional parts whose efforts combine into a dysfunctional whole."
"A thoughtful, clear and persuasive analysis" (The New York Times Book Review), Why We're Polarized reveals the structural and psychological forces behind America's descent into division and dysfunction. Neither a polemic nor a lament, this book offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump's rise to the Democratic Party's leftward shift to the politicization of everyday culture.
America is polarized, first and foremost, by identity. Everyone engaged in American politics is engaged, at some level, in identity politics. Over the past fifty years in America, our partisan identities have merged with our racial, religious, geographic, ideological, and cultural identities. These merged identities have attained a weight that is breaking much in our politics and tearing at the bonds that hold this country together.
Klein shows how and why American politics polarized around identity in the 20th century, and what that polarization did to the way we see the world and one another. And he traces the feedback loops between polarized political identities and polarized political institutions that are driving our system toward crisis.
"Well worth reading" (New York magazine), this is an "eye-opening" (O, The Oprah Magazine) book that will change how you look at politics--and perhaps at yourself.
"A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant....Deeply insightful....A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Klein's accessible work…shows how understanding history can help us plan for the future....By combining political history with social commentary, this book will retain relevancy." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"A timely, thought-provoking debut....This precise and persuasive guide helps to make sense of the current state of American politics." Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating book, rich in politics, history, psychology and more." David Leonhardt, New York Times
"Ezra Klein's new book somehow reads as if it were written after the election. For anyone concerned about how polarized we have become — and why — this book is for you." Andrew Yang, author of The War on Normal People
"Eye-opening....Klein's brilliant diagnosis and prescription provide a path to understanding — and healing." O Magazine
"Well worth reading." Andrew Sullivan, New York magazine
"It's been a long time since I learned so much from one book. [Klein] shows just how broken the American political system is." Rutger Bregman, author of Utopia for Realist
"Something has gone terribly wrong with American politics in the last decade or so, and Klein gives us the clearest and most comprehensive analysis I have seen. He shows how we entered the realm of political 'mega identity politics, ' and how feedback loops between our tribal psychology and our rapidly evolving media ecosystem may be driving our democracy over a cliff. The book reviews so many studies that in lesser hands it would earn the label 'wonkish, ' but Klein's writing is so good that it is a joy to read, even as you experience a range of negative emotions from what you are reading." Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University-Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind, Co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind
"In this thoughtful exploration of American politics, Ezra Klein challenges the conventional wisdom about why and how recently we've come apart, and suggests that the fantasy of some unified American middle is perhaps at odds with the ongoing fight for truly representational politics. Why We're Polarized makes the compelling case that the centuries-long battle to perfect our union means we were built to be split; Klein's provocative question is whether America's democratic systems and institutions can bear up under the weight of our divides." Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad
About the Author
Ezra Klein is the editor-at-large and cofounder of Vox, the award-winning explanatory news organization. Launched in 2014, Vox reaches more than 50 million people across its platforms each month. Klein is also the host of the podcast the Ezra Klein Show, cohost of the Weeds podcast, and an executive producer on Vox's Netflix show, Explained. Previously, Klein was a columnist and editor at The Washington Post, a policy analyst at MSNBC, and a contributor to Bloomberg.