Has the jury reached a verdict?
Some reviews of THE PERSUADERS
One of the strange things about writing a book is that you start at a certain point in time, because of the promptings of that moment, and then it takes so long — the research, the writing, the editing, the checking, the proofing, the printing, supply-chain issues — before it lands in the world. And the time in which it lands is its own totally different moment in the society’s life, with its own new needs and questions.
It’s sort of like taking off in a plane without a flight plan and with no foreknowledge of when and where you’ll land. And hoping that you will find a welcoming airstrip.
Which is why it has been so meaningful to me in the last many days to see reviews of THE PERSUADERS come in, and, more than their just being positive or negative, seeing how well the reviewers got it. Understood the project. Resonated with the need for a bold new politics of persuasion if the pro-democracy cause is to win the age.
By the way, if you’re interested in getting the book, you can find it at: Indiebound. Bookshop. Barnes & Noble. Books-A-Million. Amazon. Hudson Booksellers. Powell’s. Target. Penguin Random House. And join me on the tour — dates here.
Among the reviews, I loved Jennifer Szalai’s piece in The New York Times because she so clearly articulated the stakes:
If you take a look at what passes for political discourse nowadays, it’s hard not to succumb to fatalism. These are fractious, polarized times. Americans have made up their minds and there’s no use trying to change them. Disagreement is existential. Politics is an extension of war by other means.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, she reminds us. Changing minds is still possible, and there are people — the very people I profile in the book — who show a way:
While the world seems to counsel despair, “The Persuaders” is animated by a sense of possibility: “Sometimes there were cracks that let a new thought in.”
I was also blown away by this thoughtful review essay by Adam Lowenstein in The American Prospect. He says it so well:
For those who depend on Democratic victories for their well-being and even survival, the task of persuasion is an existential one. Some can afford to be fatalistic about the project of changing minds; they can simply retreat if the democratic project fails and public services crumble or disappear. But they are few in number.
And, writing in The Guardian, Emma Brockes gave her verdict with a hat tip to a great American novelist:
As Saul Bellow put it in The Adventures of Augie March: “That’s the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what’s real.” This enjoyable, helpful read may, paradoxically, suspend our solipsism for long enough to better prosecute that recruitment.
Finally, I have to share something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I can remember — a “By the Book” interview with The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Mostly because they make an illustration of you. But also because I got to tell my story of the time I invited my literary hero to dinner.
Thank you for being part of this Ink community and for all your support for THE PERSUADERS already. A lot more coming to share with you next week. For now, please spread the word to everyone you know who cares about these issues, cares about the direction of our country, and wants better strategies for making change.
Love reading all these amazing reviews!! Congrats, Anand!
“That’s the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what’s real” ... Every day, with increasing urgency and decreasing success,￼ since 2010￼, when our shared reality started to shatter (Tea Party co-opted by Fox and Kochs, “thanks Obama” morphing into open racism, shared-reality-based interactions fewer and farther between. Misery!)