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What Americans Really Want...Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams, and Fears Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 15, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Luntz (Words That Work) draws on personal experiences and current focus group research to aggregate our understanding of attitudes about everyday life, work, consumption, corporations, religious institutions, government, family relationships and community membership. Ostensibly for a general readership, the real audience for Luntz's work are groups who benefit from knowing what drives choices in contemporary American culture. Market researchers, pollsters, lobbyists and public relations officials are offered insights into such topics as what college students care about, what people expect from their employers and government, and what religious beliefs count in selling God to congregants. Using anecdotal stories about interviewing Playboy bunnies and secret shopping as well as boxed summaries about Words that Work, Luntz is shaping opinion and marketing campaigns rather than offering a synthetic vision of the American population. The questions asked offer respondents a limited perspective from which to construct their answers, resulting in hopes, dreams and fears that reflect the worldview of Luntz's corporate and political clients more than the so-called average American whose words he purports to present. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"When Frank Luntz invites you to talk to his focus group, you talk to his focus group."―President Barack Obama, spoken on June 28, 2007, to a PBS-sponsored focus group following the Democratic presidential debate at Howard University

"Frank Luntz understands the American people better than anyone I know."―Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House

"The Nostradamus of pollsters."―Sir David Frost

"America's top companies listen to Frank Luntz because he understands what customers want and what employees think. He has a keen sense of the American psyche and an outstanding command of language that empowers and persuades."―Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401322816
  • ASIN: B003XU7W1E
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

DR. FRANK I. LUNTZ is one of the most respected communications professionals in America today. He has written, supervised, and conducted more than 1,500 surveys and focus groups for corporate and public affairs clients all over the world. The go-to guy for Fortune 500 CEOs, he is the first resource media outlets turn to when they want to understand the American public. The author of the bestseller Words That Work, Luntz lives outside Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Steve in MA on September 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the owner of a small business, I'm looking for insight that will help me understand my clients and make decisions that will help my business grow, especially in our current economy. I pre-ordered this book based on the strength of Dr. Luntz' previous book, Words That Work, which offered some great tips on how to communicate more effectively. While he and I are on different sides politically, his new book does not seem to have any party affiliation (the first quote he uses is from JFK!). His writing style is engaging and entertaining, and fairly balanced as well.

I found the chapter on jobs and work ("I Can't Get No Satisfaction") to be the most interesting. Not only does he talk about what workers want from their employers, he also turns the tables and discusses what employers expect from their employees. Putting both in the same context is revealing, highlighting the areas where the two sides are out of synch. The aspects of an employer that Luntz lists as being important to employees are valid when customers look at a company as well.

His analysis of the "2020 Generation" was an eye-opener. The picture Luntz paints is of a large group of consumers who think and act (and react) so differently than their predecessors, so the old way of thinking no longer applies. Luntz' interviews and focus groups sounded like they were painful for the media executives to observe, yet they produced some good advice on how to appeal to this segment.

The chapter on politics was useful, although I might have read it differently than then author intended. I found value by looking at the voters as consumers and government as the product.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author tells the reader right up front that he or she is going to read a lot of pessimistic stuff in this volume, "but this book isn't designed to bring you down. On the contrary, it has been written to help you identify and take full advantage of the numerous silver linings in even the darkest clouds."
"In our reality, we need a new road map to help us figure out where we are going and how best to get there. This book is that road map--a snapshot of who we are, what we believe, and where we hope to go both as individuals and as a nation." The author then goes on to explain some of the answers he has learned from decades of public-opinion polling in all fifty states.
"In essence, this book is about listening--and learning from--the American People." Basketball great Jason Kidd said, "read, react, execute. Read the basketball court not just as it looks at that instant but as it will look a split second later; react to the opportunities in front of you as they develop; and execute so that those opportunities are realized. That's a good metaphor" for both the title of this book and for life itself. The book is about how to find opportunities for better understanding and then to maybe to put those insights into finding a service or product that can be provided.
The author further states that the attacks of 9/11 and the terrible recession America has just passed through has caused major psychological setbacks in the average American's optimism about the future. He predicts it will take years, maybe decades, to recover the American's "Can Do" confidence.
As the author points out at the very beginning of this tome, "The word `credit' comes from the Latin word that means `to believe'.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author, a highly respected person in his field, has written a timely, well-documented, informative book. I recommend it to anyone, but especially to marketers, to people who sell anything at all to anyone at all. I found some parts more interesting and useful than others, of course. For example, I appreciated the way the author tested selling phrases to see which one sold the most products. As a copywriter, I'm continually amazed at how changing one tiny word can make all the difference in the world!

Find out what Americans really want. You'll be surprised at some of the findings. It's not always what we think. This knowledge is worth more than gold in selling to people in this country.

Highly recommended.

- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chris MacAskill on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because his previous book left such a mark on me. I didn't fully understand what a difference words make in voters' minds, for example, by renaming the Estate Tax to the Death Tax.

This book is more about what Frank Luntz learned of American attitudes from polling than it is about how words matter, which made me skeptical in the beginning. In the first chapter he made a few sweeping conclusions from his polling that ended with statements like, "and forever changed our view of the environment." Really? I distinctly remember the largest demonstrations our nation ever had, in the early 70s, after our view of the environment was forever changed due to Lake Erie dying. Forever only lasted a few years in that case.

But I grew much more comfortable with the book as he described our attitudes towards businesses (CEOs are no longer trusted but entrepreneurs are), politics, the American Dream, choice, the Internet, news, etc. I listened to the audio version while biking and kept thinking, "I MUST remember that line!" Now I wish I read the Kindle version so I could have marked those lines and come back to them.

He is still the master of word choice and for me the best parts of the book were when he suggested better words than we use now. For example, the person who goes to their boss and asks, "How can I get a promotion" will likely get a bad reaction. But if they ask, "How can I earn a promotion," the feeling will be very different.

I can point to a dozen thoughts in this book that changed me.
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