Book Summary: Tribe

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Synopsis: Tribe documents the effects of PTSD. The author considers it a disease of recovery. He documents how people are often more satisfied in life during times of war, rather than peace. It constructs sense of purpose, a common enemy, and belonging in a communal setting.

Opinion: It’s instantly applicable to daily situations. Tribe focuses on the social isolated nature of society and it’s obscured lenses of alleged civility. As someone in University it’s easy to see how useful this book is. University students have massive rates of anxiety and depression. Tribe would diagnose this as a symptom of isolation, alienation, and individual work that long hours of reading and studying cultivates. It might seem obvious at first that social isolation isn’t healthy. After growing up in a system structured around it, having these foibles as clearly and scathingly laid out as this, resonates on a level I didn’t anticipate.

Notable Quotes:

An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain,” one of the survivors wrote. “The equality of all men.”

“He was unable to find a single instance where communities that had been hit by catastrophic events lapsed into sustained panic, much less anything approaching anarchy. If anything, he found that social bonds were reinforced during disasters, and that people overwhelmingly devoted their energies toward the good of the community rather than just themselves.

“A society that doesn’t offer its members the chance to act selflessly in these ways isn’t a society in any tribal sense of the word; it’s just a political entity that, lacking enemies, will probably fall apart on its own.”

Today’s veterans often come home to find that, although they’re willing to die for their country, they’re not sure how to live for it.”

“The ultimate betrayal of tribe isn’t acting competitively—that should be encouraged—but predicating your power on the excommunication of others from the group.

“There, finally, was my answer for why the homeless guy outside Gillette gave me his lunch thirty years ago: just dead inside. It was the one thing that, poor as he was, he absolutely refused to be.


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