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Love Your Enemies by Arthur Brooks

Love Your Enemies

by Arthur Brooks

Quick take

A thoughtful missive on kindness and contempt, for people on both sides of the aisle.


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.

Meanwhile, one in six Americans have stopped talking to close friends and family members over politics. Millions are organizing their social lives and curating their news and information to avoid hearing viewpoints differing from their own. Ideological polarization is at higher levels than at any time since the Civil War.

America has developed a “culture of contempt”—a habit of seeing people who disagree with us not as merely incorrect or misguided, but as worthless. Maybe you dislike it—more than nine out of ten Americans say they are tired of how divided we have become as a country. But hey, either you play along, or you’ll be left behind, right?


In Love Your Enemies, New York Times best-selling author and social scientist Arthur C. Brooks shows that treating others with contempt and out-outraging the other side is not a formula for lasting success. Blending cutting-edge behavioral research, ancient wisdom, and a decade of experience leading one of America’s top policy think tanks, Love Your Enemies offers a new way to lead based not on attacking others, but on bridging national divides and mending personal relationships.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Love Your Enemies.

Why I love it

Living in a big city and working in software means I hear the same political opinions ricocheting off the walls again and again. A few years back I began casting about for books by conservative writers because I wanted to hear a fresh set of perspectives. It’s too easy to write off people who lead lives that I don’t understand. And iIt’s too easy to think myself justified in doing so.

Love Your Enemies is a call for a more grown-up approach to politics for everyone on both sides of the aisle. With his trademark no-nonsense style, Brooks invites us to step back from the madness and the mud-slinging of a frenetic news cycle driven by hyperbolic talking heads in the media. We may not be able to change Washington, D.C., but we can buck against the trend of villainizing anyone we don’t agree with. We should be thinking more deeply about the issues of the day, Brooks argues, and less about the latest inflammatory meme on Facebook.

I look around at the crude coarseness of our political conversations, the trifling tawdriness of what passes as news coverage on cable and the selfish solipsisms of social media and I believe that we can do better. If you, like me, are wondering how you can close the gap to those with different views from yours, with an eye towards celebrating our commonalities rather than emphasizing our incompatibilities, you should spend time with Love Your Enemies.

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Member ratings (108)

  • Samantha S.

    Missoula, MT

    What I love about this book is it's not insulting leftists or conservatives with the usual ad hominem smears. It's about how both sides view each other with contempt, demonization, and dehumanization.

  • Emily H.

    Boiling Springs, SC

    With the divisiveness of the world it was a relief to find a book (by an author with whom I would generally disagree) that was so even sided, well-thought, and committed to finding common ground.

  • Claire Y.

    Lawrence, KS

    I've always been told what's wrong with our country but never what I could do to help fix it. Finally, here is a message of understanding that I hope reaches the hearts of all Americans.

  • Sarah F.

    Toano, VA

    This book will get you thinking and realizing that it's not us against them. It's about Americans learning to generally love and respect one another. It's about living in harmony.

  • RoseAnn M.

    Waxahachie, TX

    This book was an interesting read about how to bridge the political divide in this country. It wasnt exactly what I expected, but I really enjoyed it.