Thom Hartmann: “Cracking the Code” A Must-Read For Progressive Liberals

I have a habit of not sticking to my New Year’s resolutions. This year is different. As opposed to resolving to stop doing this or that, I resolved that this year would be my year for reading books again. Over the years, I have seen myself rely more and more on online content for virtually all of my current events and historical research. But 2009 so far has been different. Needless to say, I procrastinated (another resolution work-in- progress) in finding my way to my local Barnes & Nobel but last week I finally walked in, $25.00 B&N gift certificate in hand, and purchased Thom Hartmann’sCracking the Code” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers).



Mr. Hartmann is a radio host on Air-America Radio. His radio program is by far one of the most intelligent talk shows on the AM dial. His remarkable speaking skills on the radio easily transitions into well written books. (He has authored close to 20 other books) “Cracking the Code” is one of his finest works.

As the title implies, the book explores the many ways in which we communicate (codes) and process information. Though not exactly a treatise in human neuro-lingusitics, the reader is easily guided through the complexities of the senses and the brain in processing information.

He identifies and details numerous examples of the different language “codes” that are used in persuading others. The book specifically highlights the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that the Bush administration used a myriad of techniques to dupe the American people into accepting and following their misguided policies. He explores and crisply explains concepts like “framing” and “pacing” and how such practices can easily manipulate the recipient of the information into subconsciously agreeing.

Given the events of the past eight years, reading this book will serve as a retroactive blue print for understanding how the Bush administration mastered these codes and applied them effectively. He points out numerous examples where codes have been successfully used by progressive leaders in advancing the liberal agenda. Mr. Hartmann uses past speeches, campaign ads, and interviews and breaks them down so the reader can appreciate the built in codes. Like playing a record album backwards on a turntable to reveal a secret message in the lyrics, the book shines lumen upon lumen on linguistic manipulation. This masterful decoding reminded of me of when I had to deconsruct sentences using “non-verb-adjective” diagrams in elementary school.


His reliance on real events and anecdotes gives the book both pedagogical and political legitimacy. The book is part psychology text, part advertising how-to manual and part political exposé.

After reading this fine work, you will never listen to a speech, watch a commercail or read a political article in quite the same manner again.  All liberals should have “Cracking the Code” on their bookshelf!


Read a better written book review from The Nation magazine:



“Cracking the Code” on ($16.47)



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