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You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative Hardcover – April, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612344615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612344614
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is a wonderfully entertaining, provocative, and engaging read, as well as an antidote to the 24/7 news cycle of instant punditry and screaming headlines. The authors’ spirit of passionate, yet respectful, engagement brought forth nuances that were illuminating and surprising. By exploring their views on contentious issues and posing tough questions to flesh out each other’s perspectives, they have made a genuine contribution to American political life. More of us could benefit from leaving the ‘comfort zone’ and sticking our necks out to connect with people who have very different ideas from our own."—Dave Joseph, vice president, Public Conversations Project

"One of the toughest divides to bridge is that between liberals and conservatives. Yet Neisser and Hess pull it off, and without compromising their principles or forcing agreement when it’s just not there. Their journey together is engrossing and inspiring: they listen carefully to each other, ask plenty of questions, and have fun. In doing so, they offer a model of thoughtful deliberative practice, something sorely needed in these polarizing times."—Sandy Heierbacher, director, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

"I've been so disheartened with what I see going on in the political world these days that I found myself engaged in this book from the start. What I read gives me hope that if more people tried out what Neisser and Hess have done, this country could move away from political posturing and toward reasoned discussion of the many issues that divide us."—Dr. Joycelyn Landrum-Brown, program coordinator, Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

About the Author

PHIL NEISSER chairs the Department of Politics at SUNY Potsdam and serves half-time as associate dean of arts and sciences. He is the author of United We Fall: Ending America's Love Affair with the Political Center (Praeger, 2008). He lives in Potsdam, New York.

JACOB HESS is the research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children and families in crisis.  In 2004 he helped to develop and co-facilitate a liberal-conservative dialogue course at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign--the first of its kind in the nation.  He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.  

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Avril M. Orloff on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's easy enough to be in dialogue with people who share our world view, but it's hard not to revert to debate - even diatribe - when confronted with those whose views differ wildly from our own. So it was with great interest that I began reading "You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong)". Here were a liberal atheist and a religious social conservative, engaging in dialogue on contentious issues with a view to understanding each other, finding common ground where they could, and being willing to coexist with their differences where they couldn't.

This is the first book I've read that didn't just talk about but engaged in dialogue, literally "walking the talk." Reading it was like having a ringside seat at the authors' conversation. I could almost see them talking to each other, asking each other questions, checking their assumptions, explaining - and explaining again with more nuance - until they arrived, not necessarily at mutual agreement, but at mutual understanding. And as I followed their conversation, I found myself becoming a silent partner, noticing where I wanted to jump in with a "yes, but..." or a skeptical rebuttal, and training myself to follow their lead and listen. Which is the true essence of dialogue, after all - and the thing we find the hardest to do.

So, in a sense, "You're Not as Crazy as I Thought" is a manual on listening: with curiosity, with an open mind, with an assumption of positive intent on the part of the other, and with a genuine desire to learn. I can't help thinking the world would be a much more hospitable place if we hollered less and listened more!

Some people worry that engaging in dialogue with an opponent means "making nice," papering over differences, or caving in to the other person's point of view.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Waterhouse on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Now that the most horrible election cycle ever has concluded, it's time for people to learn how to get along a bit better, in the political sphere, than a bunch of spoiled children in a crowded sandbox. This book should be mandatory reading for the voting population. It should be mandatory reading for all the extremist pundits out there who make a living out of sowing negativity and malcontent. Respectful debate seems to be a lost art, but one which has been reclaimed by these two gentlemen, who possess widely divergent ideologies. I have read this book through twice so far, and pull it out when I need a reminder that it is possible to converse in a respectful and rational manner with others who do not share your views. In fact, it's invaluable to do so! You never know what you can learn from another person until you actually listen to what they have to say. Great lesson for anyone to learn! Great book!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Warren Shaw on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Neisser continues his quest to build bridges of understanding in our polarized age. In this, his second book, he has teamed up with a self-described political opposite, Jacob Hess, and the two have crafted a book-length "conversation," i.e., a series of brief essays that take a point/counterpoint look at various topics of political philosophy and morality, including hot-button topics like the proper role of government, sexual orientation, and the like.

It's an ambitious undertaking, and it succeeds brilliantly. Although my views and sympathies are all on Professor Neisser's side, both authors state their cases with refreshing calm and lucidity.

But this book is much much more than a moderate-temperature version of Fox News versus MSNBC. The reader will find page after page filled with discussions of complex ideas that are so clear yet so concise that they almost reach the level of poetry. An astonishing achievement!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David A. King on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard about this book on NPR and was quite excited about it.

The concept of tackling the problem of division in our country is a great one. How can we overcome polarization between red and blue states?

Once I started reading this book, I was very disappointed. Most of the content is a dialog between two people. It's a series of opinions on "hot button" topics such as morals, gun control, sex, and race.

The basic problem is that I don't care what either Phil or Jacob think about these topics. Wading through their prose is tedious. There are some great passages in terms of studying how they respectfully disagree... But you'll have to find them.

What this book *could have been* would be an analysis of these techniques. Instead of printing their bloated dialog, choice snippets and then an abstraction of communication techniques could have been presented.

I'd recommend reading a sample of this book before committing.
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