Bestselling historian Rick Shenkman‘s next book, POLITICAL ANIMALS: How Our Stone Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics will be published by Lara Heimert at Basic on January 5th, 2016, and is already garnering some terrific advance praise. To wit:
In Political Animals, historian Rick Shenkman makes excellent use of the latest research in behavioral sciences to indicate why we Americans so often fail politically. And in highly readable prose he also provides wise advice on how we can do better.
—Walter G. Moss, Professor Emeritus of History, Eastern Michigan University and author of An Age of Progress? Clashing Twentieth-Century Global Forces
“Political Animals takes readers on an insightful tour of political irrationality over the course of American history, bringing embarrassing political misjudgments into the light of fascinating findings from behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and the life sciences. In doing so, Shenkman shows us how we can sharpen our political perceptions and improve, each in our own small way, the future of our democracy.”
—Avi Tuschman, author of Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us
“A fascinating, well-told account of how our nature both prepares and ill-prepares us for politics in the modern age.”
—George E. Marcus, Professor of Political Science, Williams College
“Politics in America has this Alice in Wonderland quality: what makes sense often doesn’t happen, and what happens often doesn’t make sense. Drawing on science, history, psychology, mounds of evidence and political insight, Rick Shenkman’s masterful book shows us why. What Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point does for society, Political Animals does for politics.”
—Leonard Steinhorn, Professor of Communication and Affiliate Professor of History, American University
“The most predictable thing about politics is that it’s often unpredictable. In his fascinating and illuminating new book, Rick Shenkman discovers the problem isn’t with our fancy statistical models or forecasts, it’s with our brains. When it comes to politics, humans sometimes do things that just don’t make sense.”
—Taegan Goddard, Founder and Publisher of Political Wire
“Every era has its false prophets; today’s are the neuroscientists and evolutionary psychologists who claim that all we need to know about human behavior lies in our hard wiring. In Political Animals, Rick Shenkman explodes their just-so stories, showing that the best way to understand politics is not through instincts but though history, with all its richness and complexity.”
—David Greenberg, author of Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency
For generations political scientists have argued over whether voters address political issues rationally. Rick Shenkman vigorously asserts that for the most part they make decisions that more closely resemble the instinctual behavior of animals and early prehistoric man. He further argues that our institutions encourage such choices. Clearly written and accessible to ordinary readers, this book is an important contribution to an ongoing debate.
—Alonzo L. Hamby, author of Man of Destiny: FDR and the Making of the American Century