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Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others Paperback – May 13, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0745649825 ISBN-10: 0745649823 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (May 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745649823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745649825
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,725,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A quirky book that deserves to be taken seriously ... Gilligan's inferences are standing up."
New York Review of Books

"Gilligan offers far more than a statistical argument. In Republican ideology, dependence is associated with dishonour and shame. Gilligan offers a compelling model of how this ethic triggers intolerable feelings of being discounted, disrespected, or 'dissed' that issue in violence."
Times Literary Supplement

"Amazingly, until this book appeared nobody had spotted this trend."
The Diplomat

"By fusing together the scientific rigour of evidence-based medicine with a wealth of theoretical insights from the social sciences, Gilligan’s book (provides) new and exciting ways of understanding the social and economic determinants of health and well-being."
LSE Politics Blog

"Gilligan's book deserves a wide audience. It is inspiring to find a social/behavioral study that may turn out to be of great importance, and one that may also prove useful in furthering investigation of the emotion of shame."
Contemporary Psychology

"Irrefutable evidence that the politics of the right can actually kill you."
Morning Star

"If you believe politicians can make a difference then these statistics will confirm your beliefs."
Sydney Morning Herald

"The Republicans and Conservatives are bad for your health. They should come with the same warning that took years to become emblazoned on cigarette packets. This book goes a long way in working towards that."
Tribune

"For everyone interested in American politics, this book is a must. It will change the way you think about our two major political parties."
George Soros

"James Gilligan has given us a new formula for thinking about American politics: smoking is to cancer as republicans are to suicides and homicides. His findings are not guesswork or political wishful thinking, but based on old-fashioned digging through thousands of pages about data. Gilligan is telling us, in essence, that how we vote is a life or death decision."
Seymour M. Hersh

"A hugely important book, which needs to be widely known - not simply for its impact on voting, but also to make politicians more aware of the consequences of their actions and the non-voting public more aware of the importance of politics."
Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level

From the Back Cover

Politicians and the political process, even in ostensibly democratic countries, can be deadly. James Gilligan has discovered a devastating truth that has been "hiding in plain sight" for the past century - namely, that when America's conservative party, the Republicans, have gained the presidency, the country has repeatedly suffered from epidemics of violent death. Rates of both suicide and homicide have sky-rocketed. The reasons are all too obvious: rates of every form of social and economic distress, inequality and loss - unemployment, recessions, poverty, bankruptcy, homelessness also ballooned to epidemic proportions. When that has happened, those in the population who were most vulnerable have "snapped", with tragic consequences for everyone.

These epidemics of lethal violence have then remained at epidemic levels until the more liberal party, the Democrats, regained the White House and dramatically reduced the amount of deadly violence by diminishing the magnitude of the economic distress that had been causing it.

This pattern has been documented since 1900, when the US government first began compiling vital statistics on a yearly basis, and yet it has not been noticed by anyone until now except with regard to suicide in the UK and Australia, where a similar pattern has been described.

This book is a path-breaking account of a phenomenon that has implications for every country that presumes to call itself democratic, civilized and humane, and for all those citizens, voters and political thinkers who would like to help their country move in that direction.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The premise of this book is that homicides and suicides always rise during Republican presidencies, and always decline during Democratic presidencies. The author presents a large number of statistics to support this controversial -- perhaps even forbidden -- conclusion.

The base data he uses come straight from the nonpartisan National Center for Health Statistics of the US Public Health Service, and covers the years 1900 through 2007 (the most recent data available at the book's publication date). The author has filtered the data to account for the effect of the growing population, changing age distribution (the "baby boom"), fewer states reporting before 1933, and so forth. I'm no statistician, but from his description it sounds like these manipulations would not introduce the results he reports.

Now, you know statistics can be used to prove anything. And at first glance, the line chart he refers to throughout the book, Yearly Violent Death Rates (per 100,000 citizens), falls within a fairly narrow range, from a low of 14.3 in 1957 to a high of 26.5 in 1932 (during the Great Depression). As Gilligan states late in the book, even the LOWEST figure here is still well above those of any other industrialized nation (UK = 7.6, Western Europe = 12.7) -- and most of theirs are suicides not murders! Overlaying the political party of the president gives a series of ups and downs within each administration, with no immediately visible trend.

This is where the author goes to work, to "tease out" the meaning.

He sets a baseline average of 20 YVDR and shows that, although some Democratic presidents inherited a rate above this average, by the end of their administrations the total was always less than they started with.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By F. Langer on August 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a small book that arrives quickly at the heart of the matter: "According to the most objective and reliable data that we have concerning prosperity and public safety, the Republican party is the party of poverty and violent death" (p. 69). Gilligan thus summarizes over 100 years of statistics on homicide, suicide, economic growth, and inequality. Don't believe reviewers who might assert that the relationships Gilligan identifies are correlational, and that correlation does not prove causality. His argument arises from a more sophisticated form of statistical reasoning: time series analysis, and it should not be blithely dismissed. Nevertheless the book is not a wonkfest -- it is written for the lay reader. The data are in the background, their readily accessible description is up front. The real problem with the presentation does not lie in weak evidence but in weak language. It is all too straightforward and matter-of-fact. There is nothing inspirational about it, no Taibbian poetry comparing Goldman to a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." There is nothing simultaneously trenchant and diaphanous like almost any page of Giroux. Gilligan instead just lays it out: every time the Republicans gain the presidency, inequality rises, people begin to feel belittled and ashamed, and then the epidemic of death begins. In this book you find plainspoken information rather than barbed metaphors or uplifting oratory, and it will not be everybody's cup of tea.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marianne Makman, M.D. on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Gilligan's book is clear, concise and startling. He eloquently discusses fluctuations in murder and suicide rates over a period of over 100 years up to 2007 and correlates increases with Republican administrations and decreases with Democratic administrations. He goes much further, however, in explaining the differences in party ethos (and in "Red State and Blue State" attitudes). The Republicans believe in a culture of "shame", that is an eager acceptance of violent responses to loss of masculine strength, a belief in superior and inferior people, etc. The Democrats, on the other hand, subscribe to a culture of "guilt" which espouses equality and compassion and non-violent solutions! This is a very important and well documented thesis. It demands attention which, it is hoped, it will receive from readers and the press.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mike G on September 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a breakthrough. After years of careful research, the evidence has led Gilligan to the startling conclusion that when Republicans are in power, there is a consistently sharp rise in the violence rates, suicide rates, domestic violence, along with coinciding recessions and depressions. Hopefully, this book and its findings will have an impact on Americans and show the cost of our sometime love affair with an authoritarian political party.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ned Depew on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Gilligan's book is a rigorous and scholarly analysis of objective public data, that identifies important statistical correspondences and then convincingly explains them. Adopting the "public health" perspective to the analysis - as he has done so effectively in his earlier books on violence in America - Gilligan takes the debate beyond the false and confusing "moralism" of partisanship and Party politics, to show a deeper understanding of the obvious and demonstrable psychological (and sociological) ramifications of particular "political" approaches to social problems.

Like his books on violence, this perspective should be a breakthrough in our understanding of the deeper meaning and consequences of how we organize ourselves as a society. Sadly it will probably be some time before the population as a whole is able to cut through the rhetoric and obfuscation of the political process and take control of the tools Gilligan provides us with here. The consolation is that when that control is taken, it has the potential to change the world profoundly and much for the better.

I've written a detailed review of the book including and a report on conversations with the author that you can access from: [...] Look in table of contents for the article.
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