Chua argues that this vision of the American nation has always been riddled with self-deception, since ethnic, racial and class loyalties have never truly disappeared in America, let alone anywhere else. And she argues that this has two important implications. First, Americans need to recognise that tribalism — in the sense of group identities — exists inside America and is becoming stronger today under President Donald Trump. Second, drawing on the example of McMaster, Chua argues that American leaders need to ponder the issue of tribalism on the world stage … This is an important book since Chua’s key argument is entirely correct: America’s leaders need to recognise that tribalism exists, and to think more clearly about the implications … Chua is right to argue that tribalism matters; what Political Tribes leaves unanswered is the crucial question of how America (or anyone else) can create a non-tribal world.
Amy Chua’s compact, insightful, disquieting, yet ultimately hopeful book is both a sign of the rediscovery of the primacy of tribalism and a lucid guide to its implications … Her short book relies on a handful of case studies and examples to draw broad conclusions, so scholars will want to be cautious with it; but her accessible and provocative treatment sets up just the right public conversation. She takes her argument in two directions, one foreign, the other domestic … Chua’s observations on international affairs, although useful and timely, will not surprise anyone who has been paying attention...More interesting, and more challenging, is her take on tribalism here at home.
Chua sprints through her international material in a little over 100 pages before returning to the United States — which is where she gets stuck in a quagmire of her own making. What started out in her introduction as a shrewd assessment of our fractured political situation turns into a muddled argument about what Americans, mainly liberals, need to do next … Considering how much she’s thought about tone-deaf cosmopolitan elites seeming hopelessly out of touch, she would have done well to heed the moral of her own book: When changing lanes, check your blind spot first.