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Conflicted Reviews

Conflicted by Ian Leslie

Conflicted: Why Arguments Are Tearing Us Apart and How They Can Bring Us Together

Ian Leslie

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: Psychology, Non-fiction
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 18 Feb 2021
ISBN: 9780571346943

Instead, we too often find ourselves mired in hostility or - worse - avoiding disagreement altogether.

4 stars out of 5
10 Mar 2021

"Leslie has a way of bringing fresh perspectives and telling anecdotes to obdurate subjects"

Discourse, both public and private, is getting worse not better. Where a difference of opinion should be a creative force, now polarisation is the norm. Ian Leslie, as readers of this magazine will know, has a way of bringing fresh perspectives and telling anecdotes to obdurate subjects. Here he talks to everyone from hostage negotiators to divorce lawyers to show how conflict has driven successful companies and technological advances, and to offer ways to harness it in daily life.


4 stars out of 5
James Marriott
19 Feb 2021

"wise and useful"

I’m unconvinced that there is much hope for society. But, on the personal level, those of us who are able to argue well have much to gain from this increasingly rare skill. If you want to argue better, Leslie’s manual will be invaluable. As Leslie shows with examples from science, technology and the arts, productive disagreement spurs on creativity and discovery and new thinking: Orville and Wilbur Wright argued almost constantly, so did the Rolling Stones, so did Watson and Crick (the rival team working on DNA, Wilkins and Franklin, kept a cool distance from each other after Wilkins mistook Franklin for a lab assistant on their first meeting).

4 stars out of 5
John Gapper
17 Feb 2021

"a fascinating rumination on how we could do better than berate others on Twitter, or in rival demonstrations"

Leslie is interested in emotion as much as intelligence, and how it can obstruct or assist the quest for truth. Despite its risks, and the pain and outrage it can cause when it leads to outright hostility, he is a believer in strong argument. “Open, passionate disagreement blows away the cobwebs that gather over even the most enduring relationships . . . It flushes out crucial information and insights that will otherwise lie inaccessible or dormant inside our brains. It fulfils the creative potential of diversity,” he writes.