cover image Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

Amy Chua. Penguin Press, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-56285-3

A Yale Law School professor with expertise in ethnic conflict and globalization, Chua (The Triple Package) devotes her thoughtful, if overreaching, survey to the role of tribalism in politics and society in and outside the U.S. She concentrates in the book’s first half on how U.S. foreign policy, to its considerable detriment, has ignored the role of “political tribes,” especially those involving a socioeconomically powerful “market-dominant minority,” such as ethnic Chinese throughout Southeast Asia. Chua spends the second half looking at tribal politics in the U.S., especially “white-against-white” animosity, and touches on such little-known phenomena as the conspiracy-minded Sovereign Citizen movement, as well as the far more mainstream NASCAR culture. However, there is too little here on the vital role of religion in the formation and functioning of American political tribes. In an epilogue, Chua decries the tribalist tendency to polarize the world into “a virtuous us and a demonized them” but offers little to help Americans move beyond such views besides an appeal for more outreach and dialogue. Although the book ends weakly and too soon for the ground it attempts to cover, this is still a thought-provoking, illuminating study on a hugely important political and cultural issue. [em]Agent: Tina Bennett, WME. (Feb.) [/em]