What people say

  • Our Political Nature shows us that there are evolutionary underpinnings to our political attitudes, and that being liberal or conservative may reflect much deeper tendencies than we are inclined to think. This book is important reading for anyone trying to understand the sources of our present-day political world.

    Francis Fukuyama, New York Times-bestselling authot of The Origins of Political Order
  • In a remarkable interdisciplinary tour de force, evolutionary anthropologist Avi Tuschman integrates findings from social psychology, genetics, and neuroscience to provide a rich understanding of the polarization in politics throughout history, and of man's inhumanity to man. In Our Political Nature he makes clear that be it vote choice or the decision to go to war, our politics are the product of the passion that drive us, which are deeply rooted in humanity's evolutionary origins".

    Jerrold M. Post, MD, Director, Political Psychology Program at the George Washington University, and author of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World
  • At a time when unexpected political turmoil and economic crashes have exposed how feeble is our understanding of the forces that drive these crises, Our Political Nature provides a welcome respite from the intellectual confusion now reigning. In these pages Avi Tuschman offers a fascinating perspective on the deepest roots of the clashes that are changing our world.

    Moisés naím, Author of The End of Power, and former editor in chief of Foreign Policy
  • Best book I've read on [the topic].

    MICHAEL SHERMER, Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, and columnist for Scientific American
  • Tuschman clearly makes a unique and important contribution to the field...[in] this immensely engaging book.

    JOHN HIBBING, Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and author of Predisposed, in Political Science Quarterly
  • Tuschman’s book attempts a feat that those of us monitoring the emerging science of politics have long been waiting for -- explaining the now well-documented psychological, biological, and genetic differences between liberals and conservatives with reference to human evolution and the differential strategies of mate choice and resource allocation that have been forced on us by the pressures of surviving and reproducing on a quite dangerous planet. ...If he’s right, a dramatic new window opens on who we are and why we behave as we do.

    CHRIS MOONEY, Award-winning author and science and political journalist, in Washington Monthly
  • Political pundits on the left and right are rushing to grab pieces of Our Political Nature to substantiate their own biases, and this is understandable enough: this is a book of stunning scope and importance. The canvas here is global, and to put it bluntly I've never read anything this fascinating or compelling. I suspect this book will be a cause for heated debate in political and intellectual circles for a long time to come.

    PAUL CHUTKOW, Author and journalist
  • Think of this book as the next step after Jonathan Haidt.

    TYLER COWEN, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
  • The first book I’ve read that credibly attempts to present a unified view of political science, anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, and primatology. ...offers a penetrating explanation for why Americans (and the rest of the world) vote on a left-right spectrum, even against self and economic interest.

    Cedric Muhammad, Forbes
  • A tour de force interdisciplinary work of cross-cultural insights that is at the same time disquieting, stimulating, and hopeful in its observations about humankind's evolutionary heritage and future. ...this book may provide the starting point for the political equivalent of the American Psychology Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by allowing citizens to identify extremists on both sides of the political spectrum. And sadly, this may be an increasingly necessary tool.

    PATRICK A. STEWART, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Arkansas, and author of Debatable Humor: Laughing Matters on the 2008 Presidential Primary Campaign
  • Tuschman's book will change the way you see yourself, the way you hear the news, and perhaps the way you behave as a political agent. We are living in a time of alarming partisanship, but Tuschman's ideas left me with a surprising respect for the spectrum of political attitudes. Both liberals and conservatives embody behaviors tested by human needs over eons of time. In all our predictable diversity, we human beings are the inarguable descendents of life's winners, those who have found a path to the present moment, a hard-won existence, a tentative victory. But the same triumphant attitudes that have brought us to this place could also lead us blindly to our destruction. Beginning to glimpse and understand who we are has never been more important. Read this book.

    TERESA BUCZINSKY, High school teacher, Arlington Heights, Illinois
  • Je recommande fortement cet excellent ouvrage d’Avi Tuschman, auquel je suis loin de rendre justice dans ce court article. C’est sérieusement une lecture incontournable.

    LE MINARCHISTE, dans la revue Contrepoints
  • Sin duda, es uno de los libros más interesantes que jamás he comentado...Nuestra naturaleza política se adentra en un tema de extraordinaria importancia política pero que, en realidad, es un auténtico desconocido para el común de los mortales: ¿qué hay detrás de nuestras tendencias políticas?

    JUAN DIEGO SÁNCHEZ Comunicación a la Deriva
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ABOUT THE BOOK

We are living through an especially divisive moment in history…

Our political, social, and economic landscape is increasingly fractured, and a vast chasm seems to separate people on the left from people on the right. Likewise, many Americans are worried and confused about the explosive political upheavals in places like Syria, Egypt, North Korea, and Iran. Time and again, too, our government has been caught flatfooted. We must find a new way to comprehend these problems at a much deeper and more objective level.

There are three questions that are absolutely fundamental to how we understand the future of our country and our world: What are the root causes of our debilitating left-right divide? Where do our political orientations really come from? And how can we predict the eruption of political instability in flash points around the globe? Today’s commentators would have us believe that our political behavior comes from our views about the main issues of the day, such as ObamaCare, or from our economic circumstances, or our longtime affiliations with this political party or that.

This is wrong, or at least incomplete. For the last ten years, I’ve been researching the puzzle of political orientation, both during my career advising heads of state on shaping public opinion and during my doctoral work in evolutionary anthropology at Stanford University. During this inquiry, I’ve drawn together dozens of cutting-edge insights from neuroscience, primatology, and genetics, and they lead to this revealing conclusion: our political orientations are deeply ingrained natural dispositions, molded within each of us by powerful evolutionary forces. (…)

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From Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us (Prometheus Books, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Avi Tuschman.
All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

About the Author

My name is Avi Tuschman, and I’m an evolutionary anthropologist and political psychologist. I’m also the author of the book Our Political Nature. This book has been a true journey of discovery.

My adventure began in 2002 in Peru, as the country was recovering from an internal war with Communist insurgents that had killed 70,000 people. I found myself on the inside of a nasty political conflict over the world’s second largest gold mine. To exploit new reserves or not to? And if so, how? I was researching the situation for a political-risk consulting firm, and we were looking for ways to defuse the situation and find a solution satisfactory to both sides. The deeper I looked, though, the more shocked I was at how radically different people’s political perceptions were. There was almost no way to bridge the gap. (…)

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