An engaging, practical guide to the psychological dynamics of electoral politics.



An insightful look at politicians through a psychological lens.

As a syndicated columnist for the Boston Globe and a frequent national television and radio guest, Wish is known for being able to explain cutting-edge psychological concepts to mass audiences. He’s also served as a political consultant, most notably on future Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Romney seemed to Republican insiders to be a sure winner, as he was articulate, handsome, and unflappable; however, Wish saw that Romney seemed “too perfect” and thus failed to personally connect with voters. According to the author, voters aren’t driven by policy or polish but by emotion; for example, President George W. Bush’s numerous gaffes made him more likable to voters, who were drawn to his perceived authenticity. Using a blend of psychological theory and absorbing political anecdotes, Wish analyzes the “7 deadly sins” that are most often committed by politicians who fail to apply psychological know-how to voter outreach. Although the “sins,” such as being “too cerebral,” are morally neutral, their corresponding values, such as empathy and decisiveness, resonate with voters who are driven by “survival instincts” and “anger, enthusiasm, and anxiety,” Wish says. President Donald Trump commits some of Wish’s “sins,” but his success is due to his ability to tap into his supporters’ emotions. The author’s psychological insights will appeal to political junkies as well as anyone in a leadership position. His analysis of “the science of first impressions,” in-depth breakdowns (with charts) of body posture and “power poses,” and emphasis on the importance of storytelling have wide applicability. A gendered analysis is noticeably missing, however, which is surprising given contemporary conversations about misogyny and the failed presidential bids of several women candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. For example, how do men respond to women who deploy “power poses”? And more importantly, how can women candidates use contemporary psychology to break political glass ceilings?

An engaging, practical guide to the psychological dynamics of electoral politics.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5445-0729-3

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

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The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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