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Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent Paperback – January 29, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (January 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608194388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608194384
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tea Partiers and Occupiers alike may be surprised and enlightened by this lucid analysis, all the more convincing for its sympathetic treatment of both sides of the argument." ---Publishers Weekly
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

E. J. Dionne Jr. is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a columnist for the Washington Post, and University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University. He appears weekly on NPR and regularly on MSNBC and NBC's Meet the Press. His twice-weekly op-ed column is now syndicated in 140 newspapers. His writing has been published in the Atlantic, the New Republic, the American Prospect, the Washington Post Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, Commonweal, New Statesman, and elsewhere. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of numerous books, including the classic bestseller Why Americans Hate Politics, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was nominated for the National Book Award. His most recent book is Souled Out. Dionne lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with wife, Mary Boyle, and their three children.

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Customer Reviews

This is kind of the strategy E.J. Dionne takes in Our Divided Political Heart but with some interesting twists.
T. Sales
This book was required reading for a class and the author's writing style made it easy and interesting to read. he has a strong point of view and backs it up well.
sallyamz
It's an excellent study in American political history, a book anyone concerned about America's future should read.
R. S. Wilkerson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 128 people found the following review helpful By T. Sales on May 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Authors writing about political partisanship try not to offend either side--lest liberals and conservatives retreat to their talking points and shut down debate. To avoid appearing too partisan they analyze how historical precedents (especially those set forth by the founders or in the Constitution) relate to our current situation. For example:

* In Drift, Rachel Maddow cites how the founders (particularly Jefferson) rejected large standing militaries but how presidents since Reagan have found roundabout ways to conduct continuous military actions.
* In It's Even Worse Than It Looks, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein describe how the constitutional system struggles to work within the ideology-driven environment that has evolved over the last 40 years.
* In The Republican Brain, Chris Mooney explicitly recommends such a story strategy--"liberals and scientists should find some key facts--the best facts--and integrate them into stories that move people [and]... here is where you really have to admire conservatives. Their narrative of the founding of the country, which casts the U.S. as a "Christian nation" and themselves as the Tea Party, is a powerful story that perfectly matches their values. It just happens to be wrong. But liberals will never defeat it factually--they have to tell a better story of their own."

This is kind of the strategy E.J. Dionne takes in Our Divided Political Heart but with some interesting twists. As a Brookings colleague of Thomas Mann, Dionne's narrative shares some similarities with Mann's description of how and when conservatives got onto their current path. But Dionne doesn't focus much on conservatives vs. liberals or on ways to resolve the current impasse.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By jem on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When "liberal" versus "conservative" has become a daily diet among op-ed columnists, what a treasure it is to read a conscientious journalist committed to discovering, describing, and synthesizing historical interpretations regarding the contradictory duality of individual and community responsibility which is the heart and strength of American democracy. Dionne credits President Clinton for one of the most dramatic illustrations of this philosophy by pulling a penny from his pocket and reading from the side next to Lincoln's picture the single word, "Liberty" and turning it over to read from the other side, "E Pluribus Unum" -- Out of Many, One.

E.J. Dionne's "Our Divided Political Heart" is challenging reading but deeply rewarding. He emphasizes the fact that historical interpretations both reflect and shape current policy. He cites the example of President Reagan popularizing the ideal of Winthrop's "City on a Hill" but practically no one who admires the slogan is aware that the Puritan leader admonished his fellow citizens "We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body." Only when struck by disasters such as a tornado or hurricane do large numbers of us reflect that standard. We find no irony in idolizing cultural heroes from both sides of this heritage -- think "It's a Wonderful Life" and "High Noon.
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Format: Hardcover
*****
"This book is an effort to make sense of our current political unhappiness, to offer an explanation for why divisions in our politics run so deep, and to reflect on why we are arguing so much about our nation's history and what it means."--E. J. Dionne's
*

E. J. Dionne's is my favorite rational liberal political commentator; discussing around a Sunday table with David Brooks will always make my day. The days of political camaraderie are over, but the gifted analyst still prescribes some viable medicines to the current poisoned political milieu. We cannot compromise because we lost the core of our identity, that motivates our exceptionalism. EJ claims: one reason underlying our irritating political lockout, is caused by polarized minds and ego centered hearts; extreme individuality is paralyzing our political will.

Dionne narrates in a vivid analytical tour of American sociopolitical history, the Progressives and the 'New Dealers', starting with the Founding Fathers all the way to the Populists. He offers a compelling analysis of America's contemporary politics, and its current situation that puzzles the American voters at large, as well as the conventional wisdom of political analysts. The federal government has been always considered the active executive partner putting into reality the American population's dreams of opportunity and prosperity.

"A yearning to reverse decline played just below the surface in Obama's campaign in 2008. His victory was a response to a national mood conditioned by anxiety. ..., Americans worried that in the first decade of the new millennium, their country had squandered its international advantages, degraded its power ... in Iraq, and wrecked the federal government's finances.
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