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Publisher's Summary

In 2004, journalist Bill Bishop coined the term "the big sort". Armed with startling new demographic data, he made national news in a series of articles showing how Americans have been sorting themselves into alarmingly homogeneous communities - not by region or by state but by city and even neighborhood. Over the past three decades, we have been choosing the neighborhoods (and churches and news shows) compatible with our lifestyles and beliefs. The result is a country that has become so polarized, so ideologically inbred, that people don't know and can't understand those who live a few miles away. How this came to be, and its dire implications for our country, is the subject of this groundbreaking work. In The Big Sort, Bishop has taken his analysis to a new level. He begins with stories about how we live today and then draws on history, economics, and our changing political landscape to create one of the most compelling big-picture accounts of America in recent memory.

©2008 Bill Bishop (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Complex and surprising.... A book posing hard questions for readers across the political spectrum." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about The Big Sort

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Build the Wall?

In the backdrop of highly vitriolic debate about the effectiveness and morality of walls that is dividing our nation , I read this sad but fascinating book about just that: the effectiveness and detriment of walls. This book about walls does not discuss metal or concrete, height or length, but discusses the walls being built ideologically around geographic locations, as well as social institutions. These walls hide the view of the humanity that we all share, from the viewer on the other side. Please read if you want to feel challenged an “unsafe” about your own political isolation. That’s what this book did for me. Fantastic and very needed book for these times. #hugapoliticalfoe

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Everyone has something to learn from this book

I think everyone could learn something from this book. It is full of information on how we’ve sorted ourselves, and how that effects our daily lives. Highly recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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Wandering biopic of Boomer politics

I liked the historic, religious, demographic and political sorting anecdotes. I didn't like the use of percentages of change without scope. For example, if votes for LGBT rights doubled then what percentage of all voters did that result in? The book is very long to make a point that could've been made more efficiently with graphics using census and voting data. Every generation may think they have invented sex because they don't discuss it with parents. Sorting isn't new, might be more pronounced thanks to a shrinking world.

2 people found this helpful

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The American Stress is not about Race, it is Class

This book was recommended by the author of "The Loop". The author keeps the data references flowing in this book. Every assertion was well referenced and cited. America (and in other first world countries) people have the technology, time, and money to sort themselves into like-minded communities - and so they are. Read this book to find out why and where things appear to be headed.

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Compelling narrative of our recent social shifts

Very detailed narrative, relating the parallel drives behind our increasingly cloistered lives, churches, social gatherings, and self-made niches. Our most recent social experiment, which started with the weighty events in 1965, and continue today.

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Dry data but some interesting insights

Basically just reading the data from one study after another. The author did a poor job of connecting the dots - giving the reader/listener the "so what," and most frustratingly, absolutely no recommendations on how to solve the problem or improve the current state of affairs.

The book felt very dated, as it primarily focuses on the Bush vs. Kerry election cycle, so the present day reader can't help but wonder how much worse things must be now. Similarly, the book doesn't really touch on the power of the internet, algorithms, etc which has obviously changed our world dramatically.

I really struggled to finish this and considered giving up several times, but ultimately am glad I finished it because I did learn some interesting insights despite its flaws.

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essential reading for any political analyst

this book is very important for anybody that analyzes political trends in the United States. a lot of what we're dealing with today has its roots in what this book talks about.

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For data/history geeks

Data driven explanation of why people vote the way they do or are sorting themselves into insular groups. Too much data and facts for me to process. I gleaned interesting tidbits, but it took me forever to finish this book.

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Outdated in 2018

Outdated in 2018, did not find it particularly insightful or compelling. Was probably a better read 10 years ago when written

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A little dated but still relevant

The best explanation I have yet read concerning how our nation evolved into what it is today.