Brooks beholds America’s 21st-century tribal feuds...with a clear, intelligent eye and a hospitable attitude that is rightly focused on the spiritual dimensions of the problem ... Love Your Enemies can be seen as an informal handbook of attitudes and behaviors: Castiglione for the Twitter age. The reader may be left torn between admiring it as an example of Kafka’s 'A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us,' or dismissing it with Hemingway’s 'Isn’t it pretty to think so?' ... [H.L] Mencken would probably have dismissed Brooks as a sentimentalist— 'an evangelist,' in Mencken’s scornful term. A useful and welcome evangelist, I’d say.
The book’s efficient discussion of Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundationism, expressed most fully in Mr. Haidt’s The Righteous Mind (2012), is valuable—though not, to my mind, totally persuasive ...These categories may help rightward- and leftward-leaning people show a little more patience with each other, but the categories are only about predispositions, not about morality itself, and are inevitably bound by time and place. Moreover, Mr. Haidt’s moral foundationism may work as a kind of thought experiment, but I suspect it holds little cogency for people worried about the destruction of their country’s best traditions ... the suggestion that we all treat each other nicely may seem rather thin. But Mr. Brooks embodies the charity and reasonableness he preaches—and leading by example is far from nothing.
[Brooks] draws from neuroscience and psychology to support his hypotheses and rarely indulges in the sort of finger-pointing that proceeds from who-started-it accusations ... it will be fascinating to see whether a book like this has any influence. Hardly groundbreaking but a straightforward and practical guide back toward human decency.
Brooks marshals an impressive amount of evidence to make his point ... an important, powerful, and well-argued thesis ... Brooks goes easier than he should on the nation’s political class ... Brooks’ prescription that we treat others with love is praiseworthy and highly desirable. But it’s not clear that such an approach will get us very far if our leaders continue to spew anger and gratuitous insults in the public arena.