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The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream Hardcover – August 12, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Renowned political pollster Zogby distills a lifetime of surveying public opinion into a provocative—and heartening—portrait of American attitudes toward a host of topical issues that will shock cynics who regularly pronounce on the nation's divisions, apathy and appetite for excess. The bullshit era is over and done, Zogby notes; his surveys reveal a public craving for truth rather than hype, valuing thrift over luxury and ready to accept limits on consumption. A New American Consensus is emerging, according to the author; shared economic hardships are uniting people commonly perceived to be at odds, and self-defined identities such as investor are becoming more reliable predictors of worldviews than race or gender. The author reserves particular enthusiasm for the younger generation, whose responses reveal an unprecedented embrace of diversity, sensitivity to global human rights and a willingness to grapple with complex issues—such as abortion—free from orthodoxy and with a desire to find middle ground. The American Century is over, Zogby declares, and the Whole Earth Century has begun; his intriguing claims will likely stimulate hope and continued debate. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Like the data Zogby studies, reactions to his book were somewhat difficult to gauge. Several critics dismissed him as hopelessly optimistic, but they didn’t seriously attempt to debunk his data. Others offered an unqualified embrace of his vision of the future, but they didn’t provide any qualifications of their own. Perhaps the most reasonable response came from the Wall Street Journal. Michael Barone stressed that readers should keep in mind that Zogby is an unconventional pollster who sometimes pushes the boundaries of the field; at the same time, some of the trends that Zogby identifies are difficult to deny, even if one feels relatively less optimistic about them. Critics also disagreed on whether Zogby’s prose transcends the trends: some found themselves carried along by his occasional anecdotes and concise analysis, while others found themselves bogged down in the numbers. So The Way We’ll Be is a book about one man’s opinions about predicting the future based on many other people’s opinions. Only you can decide if that much irresolvable speculation will make your brain hurt.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (August 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064502
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
John Zogby is by far one of the most respected and prolific pollsters and chroniclers of social changes and sensibilities of our time.

In his new book "The Way We'll Be" he says that people want more than ever to be treated as individuals. He says they also want variety in the products they purchase. "They want choice, not imposition, and they are demanding to be treated as individuals," he says. I'm not sure this in and of itself is real news. But if you market to other people, it's certainly something you should know and understand. Only when you understand what people want can you successfully sell to them.

He also says that people are willing to settle for less. "Narrowing limits", he calls this attitude.

The one problem I found with the book was that the author seems to deal mostly about the current state of things and not as much about the future as you would expect. Of course, one call tell a lot about the future by the past.

What I found useful about the book is that it tells us about the consumer and the people we deal with daily. As a marketer, this information is valuable. Indeed, it is priceless. Just as politicians needs to know what motivates people, those who sell to people need to know their motivations as well.

While the book fails to tell us exactly what we might expect in the future (if that were even possible) in the way Alvin Toffler did, it is certainly a worthwhile book and one that I highly recommend.

- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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Format: Hardcover
This is the second book I have read in the past month by a political pollster. The first, "Words that Work," by Frank Luntz, was a cynical look at how polling can help corporations and politicians paint themselves in the most flattering light and bamboozle a helpless public. John Zogby's book could not be more different. It is a deep, exhaustive look at some of the insights he has gained through decades of polling about the state of the American psyche, what people value, want they hope for and where they would like the country and their own lives to go.
Full disclosure: I worked with the author of this book for many years on political polls he conducted when I was chief political correspondent for Reuters. Obviously, I valued that partnership -- but this book is not primarily about politics. It is a kind of "State of the Union Address" and is by turns amusing, revealing and often surprising.
Zogby's deepest insight is his proposition that there exists in our nation a vast group of Americans he calls "secular spiritualists" -- people craving meaning in their lives. Some find it through religion, but many look for spiritual sustenanance outside of organized churches. They want material comfort and security for themselves and their families, of course, but they also want to leave the world a better place than they found it; they crave emotional fulfillment and they are remarkably tolerant of ther races, religions and cultures. Unfortunately, politicians have completely failed to address these desires, preferring to fall back on unbridled negativity (as seen in this year's presidential campaign).
Americans, Zogby says, want an ethical government, ethical corporations and ethical leaders.
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Format: Hardcover
Naturally, you would expect a pollster to take poll answers and try to use them to predict the future: That's how pollsters make a living. Interestingly, their predictions quickly fall apart when the future is more than a few days away. That should be a hint that polls are a weak basis for looking at longer-term trends.

If you had polled teenagers in the sixties, you would have extrapolated their poll answers into having a country filled with wild livers among the following generations.

Each person is formed by events, reactions to events, the passage of time, and learning. Poll answers are a result of those formative influences. If Mr. Zogby can learn how to predict those influencers, then poll answers might have more value.

This book will mostly be of interest to those who don't know very much about how young people think about today's burning questions. If you are a young person, I doubt if you will learn very much except about how polls and poll interpretations are created. If you have young people in your family, you also know what's going on. If you are older and don't have much contact with younger people, you will probably think this is a three or four star book.

I also found lots of little errors in the book that made me wonder how careful a pollster Mr. Zogby is. One of my favorites was a sentence describing how those who were born during World War II were affected by their experiences during the Depression. Hmm. I guess the effects of the outside world on yet-to-be-conceived children are much stronger than I realized.

This was a hard book for me to finish. When I was done, I didn't feel like it was worth the effort.
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Format: Hardcover
Very disappointing. Zogby never goes beyond all his data to draw the insightful connections or provide the penetrating analysis that I was looking for. Yes, his central theme that American's are now living within an age of limits is a strong observation (and backed up with data) - but I was left wondering what are the larger forces that have caused this shift. Mark Penn's book Microtrends is a much better book - as by slicing the world in smaller segments he is able to tell a deeper and more satisfying story.
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