February 10th, 2018

Jordan Peterson’s new book is #1 on Amazon

It’s called 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, and it’s been #1 for much of the time since it was released on January 23, 2018. As I write this it has over 600 customer reviews and, astoundingly, almost all of them are five-star. And that’s despite the fact that among much of the left Peterson is quite a hated figure.

Peterson already had a large and loyal following prior to the book’s publication, and no doubt that has much to do with its popularity and the overwhelmingly positive reviews so far. And no, I haven’t read the book yet. But I also believe that another reason this book is so popular—and that Peterson himself has become so popular—is that he fills a need, a hunger, for his tough-love combination of common sense and wisdom as well as seriousness. His wisdom also encompasses timeless wisdoms from sources like the Bible and mythology, and that’s appealing too, particularly in people previously unfamiliar with what those sources have to offer.

In a world that’s loaded with jargon, shallow and predictable thinking, and encouragement to claims of victimhood, Peterson offers a refreshing call to responsibility. Responsibility might be difficult, but it is also hopeful because it puts more of the reins of a person’s life in his/her own hands.

[NOTE: And of course, if you’re inclined to buy his book, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to click on the above link to the book’s title and buy through neo.]

31 Responses to “Jordan Peterson’s new book is #1 on Amazon”

  1. Esther Says:

    Peterson does the reading for the audio version, which is excellent. I’m on chapter 3 and am planning to get the ‘analog’ version too.

  2. Mike K Says:

    I have the audio book in the car and I sent a copy to my daughter who is a lefty. She is a Bernie voter but very smart and well educated (four languages). I wondered if she would even read it.
    She called me four days later to tell me how much she loves it. I think she has had a little trouble with depression and I think that is a real benefit to this book. He seems to be talking about depression.
    Now she wants to read his earlier book that is out of print.

  3. Mike K Says:

    Yes, I like his reading of it on audio.

  4. expat Says:

    There is an Uncommon Knowledge post up at The Corner (NRO) today with Shelby Steele. He gets into some of the same thing on responsibility and victimhood.

  5. huxley Says:

    When I was younger, I was attracted to teachers who were strong advocates of personal responsibility: Fritz Perls, Stephen Gaskin, Werner Erhard and Tony Robbins.

    These teachers were all a bit weird, even cultish, but I’m glad I made their acquaintance and took their messages to heart. They made a big difference in my life.

    I pick up that message in Jordan Peterson and I like it.

    The constant emphasis on victimhood in our society is arguably the worst mistake we’re making.

  6. Gringo Says:

    Mike K
    Now she wants to read his earlier book that is out of print.

    Another commenter on this blog pointed out that a PDF of Maps of Meaning can be downloaded from Jordan Peterson’s website- both in English and in Russian.

    Huxley, back in the day in Berserkeley I met Stephen Gaskin, though I never attended one of his Monday Night Classes out at the Family Dog in San Francisco.


  7. huxley Says:

    Gringo: I heard Gaskin in a small group once, but otherwise I just read his books and discussed them with friends.

    When he died in 2014, the Telegraph, as usual, provided a fair and flavorful obituary.


  8. huxley Says:

    I’m a bit mystified by Peter Hitchens (Christopher’s brother BTW) vaguely negative take on JP from a few days ago:


    I can’t tell if Hitchens is more annoyed he hasn’t become as well-known as JP or he’s bothered by JP’s conversational, accessible writing style

  9. Gringo Says:

    As Hitchens compares his audience size with Peterson’s audience size in the first paragraph, it’s a good bet that jealousy motivates his criticism

  10. huxley Says:

    …it’s a good bet that jealousy motivates his criticism

    Gringo: That would be my bet!

    Hitchens goes on to congratulate himself:

    Perhaps [Peterson’s use of antidepressants] is why I am so glad that the whole nature of Dr Peterson’s work is alien to me.

    This strikes me as a non-sequitur. Hitchens sounded a valid warning that antidepressants remain controversial but then he veered off into a bogus comparison of antidepressants with Huxley’s soma in “Brave New World,” which suggests Hitchens has not followed the debate on these drugs nor seen the issues first-hand.

    There was the “Listening to Prozac” moment in the early nineties when some people, doctors even, were entranced by SSRI antidepressants as a panacea, but that time has long passed. Now SSRIs are understood more as a valid, but imperfect, measure in the fight against depression which may buy important time for a patient to stabilize and build a better life.

    That’s how Peterson explained antidepressants in one of his youtubes. I’m less sanguine about antidepressants but agree with Peterson that depression can develop into a genuine threat to one’s life and must be confronted with the utmost seriousness — which may or may not include antidepressants.

  11. Esther Says:

    Peterson also has authentic and useful things to say about PTSD.

  12. AesopFan Says:

    I would suggest that Peterson’s book does not speak to Hitchens, because Hitchens* is not his audience, as even PH almost recognizes.

    “Perhaps this is why I am so glad that the whole nature of Dr Peterson’s work is alien to me. I am too keenly aware of the good things which have been utterly lost in recent years to be comforted by what looks like an attempt to reconcile us with the revolutionary order. I find it hard to applaud efforts to help me adapt to a world which I think has gone utterly wrong. His message is aimed at people who have grown up in the post-Christian West. I think it appeals especially to young men. And I think this is mainly because those young men cannot work out how to behave correctly towards modern young women. These young women’s minds have been trained to mistrust masculinity. But in their hearts they still despise feeble, feminised men. The outcome is that men are trapped in a minefield, in the midst of a quicksand. Whether you stand still or move, it will still destroy you. I do not know how anyone copes with it, or ever could.

    I used to joke that my upbringing, among warships and cathedrals, with longish spells in chilly prep schools surrounded by muddy playing fields and ruled by bellowing tyrants, had not done me any harm. In truth, I am sure it did do me some harm, though I was neither beaten nor subjected to indecent assaults, as everyone else seems to have been. But by comparison with the world in which Dr Peterson’s poor, sad admirers have grown up, it was a wise education for real life, especially the hymns that still echo in my mind, with their promised nights of doubt and sorrow and their steep and rugged pathways.”

    *Although Peter Hitchens ideology (especially in re religion) is strikingly different from his (also) more famous brother Christopher, they share a rigorous intellectual upbringing. And Hitchens, unlike Peterson, is not a clinical psychologist or university professor, accustomed to the way you have to talk to clients and students these days.
    And he is jealous.

    Quotes from his Wikipedia bio:
    People like me – though still allowed to speak – are allowed on to mainstream national broadcasting only under strict conditions: that we are ‘balanced’ by at least three other people who disagree with us so that our views, actually held by millions, are made to look like an eccentric minority opinion.[41]
    Hitchens, 2011

    In The Guardian, James Silver described Hitchens as “the Mail on Sunday’s fulminator-in-chief”[10] and his columns as “molten Old Testament fury shot through with visceral wit.”[10] In The Daily Telegraph, Ed West wrote of Hitchens, “I’m a great admirer of Peter, a decent, kind and deeply compassionate man with the air of a prophet about him; and like all prophets, doomed to be scorned by so many. I think a lot of people affect to despise his archaic value system while suspecting that there’s something in it, and would say so if only more influential people would stick their head above the parapet.”

    (perhaps he is reacting to Peterson’s prophet-come-lately condition, as the Illinois Senator did to Obama being given credit for the legislation he had worked on for years, just to burnish Obama’s credentials for a presidential campaign)

  13. huxley Says:

    The Peter Hitchens / Jordan Peterson divide reminds me of the NeverTrump / Trump divide.

    Peterson’s pragmatic methods offend Hitchens’s higher sensibilities about how proper people would do things properly.

    Both Trump and Peterson feel they are fighting a war with real stakes and, given the dire circumstances, are less concerned about the proper ways of proper people.

    I wasn’t a big fan of the Flight 93 manifesto during the 2016 campaign. Saying it’s a war and anything goes is a fraught course of action and it wasn’t at all clear to me Trump wouldn’t make things worse, if not much worse.

    However, I can’t get with Hitchens’s Olympian remove which allows him to disdain Peterson’s work because Peterson took antidepressants during a dark period in his life and since then has failed to express himself with the “orderly architecture of argument” which Hitchens apparently requires.

  14. huxley Says:

    Worse yet was Hitchen’s final line dismissing JP’s “poor sad admirers” because they didn’t go to Eton or some toney prep school like the one Hitchens (and Stephen Hawking’s son) attended. AesopFan quoted the passage, but again:

    But by comparison with the world in which Dr Peterson’s poor, sad admirers have grown up, it was a wise education for real life, especially the hymns that still echo in my mind, with their promised nights of doubt and sorrow and their steep and rugged pathways.

    I’d agree going to strict traditional school has its points, but for the overwhelming majority of young men it is not a possibility. I find Hitchens’s elitism distasteful.

    And these children that you spit on
    As they try to change their worlds
    Are immune to your consultations.
    They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.

    –David Bowie, “Changes”

  15. om Says:


    I agree with your assessment of Peter Hitchens’ disdain for the poor proles who weren’t in English public schools during his childhood (and whatever the US equivalent would be).

    It’s good to be correct about most things but if you come off as an ass (PH) not many will heed your message.

  16. Frog Says:

    A worthy review of Peterson’s “Twelve Rules” is here:

    Which is why I will not read it. I admit to being both spiritual and religious, as a convert to the Catholic Church.

  17. om Says:

    Clean up your room.

  18. Tom G Says:

    @Frog, good catch … I was about to refer to it, too!

    “His contribution is synthesis and communication, not earth shattering originality” << Some critics don't like how JP is not 'original enough'. However, he seems to sincerely be interested in the 'objective truth'.*

    Plus, his presentation is smooth & polished, like he's thought a lot about this answer. And it seems to me that he has some 100 factoid / anecdotes ready to go, whenever.

    Good salesfolk are ready with good answers to the expected questions. He's more than good — he's the BEST out there, right now, on the anti-FemiNazi PC talking circuit & YouTube. (Someone has to be best. ) This last year, and likely this year, there are no better speakers about the things he's mostly speaking about.

    *If you can fake sincerity, you've got it made (George Burns). I don't think JP is faking. I think Trump is, in many ways. Yet Trump is serious about wanted to MAGA.

  19. Tom G Says:


    He started writing because he was “very upset by the processes of the cold war” – was having nightmares (1985)

    “This all may appear as something far removed from the original problem, but that is true only in appearance. I have learned what it is that makes the tyrant, and how attractive it can be to participate in that process. I have come to understand what it is that our stories protect us from, and why we will do anything to maintain their stability. I now realize how it can be that our religious mythologies are true, and why that truth places a virtually intolerable burden of responsibility on the individual. I know now why rejection of such responsibility ensures that the unknown will manifest a demonic face, and why those who shrink from their potential seek revenge wherever they can find it. I learned what I wanted to know – at least enough so that my nightmares disappeared.

    It is my hope that the transmission of this knowledge will help those who receive it withstand the forces of ideological possession, and that this will in consequence aid in some small way the establishment of a long and conscious peace.”

    The burden of responsibility, virtually intolerable.

  20. om Says:

    Frog and Tom G:

    If you want a Christian apologetic read the authors that are referenced in the review that Frog posted.

    Peterson makes it very clear that he is NOT writing a Christian apologetic or writing for that purpose. If you want to put him in that box he won’t fit. The author of Frogs citation considers Peterson a heretic. That’s nice to know I guess, was the author looking for orthodoxy or purity of belief?

  21. huxley Says:

    If, when you are young, you are not fortunate enough to have strong, sensible parents or teachers, you are in trouble. You will have to work hard to reinvent that wheel for yourself or succumb to a life of chaos, to use JP’s terminology.

    I would have made a good example of a “poor, sad admirer” of JP. My home life was a nightmare and Catholic school was brimming with abuse and hypocrisy. After I left home and church I flailed around a lot. It wasn’t pretty.

    JP is the sort of teacher I would have been drawn to, if he had been around then. I believe he would have been good for me. I hope he’s good for the kids coming up, especially the young men.

  22. neo-neocon Says:


    My sense is that it’s often parents who have abdicated their responsibility to guide their children, in part because they’ve lost the way themselves. I would have loved to have had a teacher like Peterson at the young adult stage in my life (I think, anyway!).

    I’m puzzled by that essay that compares Peterson to C.S. Lewis. To me, C.S. Lewis focuses on Christianity and a person’s relationship with God. Peterson is far more focused on psychology and interpersonal relationships on earth (makes sense, since he’s a psychologist). I’ve not read his book (I’ve read some of C.S. Lewis and commented previously here), but my sense from watching many of Peterson’s videos is that he steers clear of advocating one religion or another, or organized religion at all. He wants to help people find their own way, and certainly does not neglect the spiritual, but he’s not a proselytizer for any organized faith.

    To me, it’s comparing apples and oranges to bring C.S. Lewis into it.

  23. huxley Says:

    neo: The Lewis/Peterson comparison sounded clunky to me too. They are different men with different missions based on different territories.

    However, I did take the writer’s point at a meta-level. Lewis and Peterson are both bright, articulate men driven to synthesize complex bodies of knowledge, then break them down in ways which resonate with other people and impart meaning the others would have been challenged to develop on their own.

    I consider that a service. I’m trying to avoid calling CSL and JP popularizers, but that’s kinda what they are. I still appreciate such writers.

    I’ve never had any shame about going to popularizations — even children’s books — when I’m starting to get my arms around a difficult subject. And I’ve long been annoyed by people who get sniffy about this approach.

    That said, I never caught fire for Lewis. Even at the peak of my born-again-ness he sounded like a clever schoolteacher wowing sixth-graders.

  24. The Other Chuck Says:

    Peterson still takes anti-depression medication. In one recent video he talks about side effects from them and says he cut his usage in half. For me this is a warning sign. While I know that he has a great intellect, fantastic communication skills, and is fighting the good fight to preserve Western Civilization, he is not my cup of tea.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    The Other Chuck:

    Why on earth would you discredit a thinker for taking anti-depressants? Tons of people take them and you don’t even know, because—unlike Peterson—they don’t feel the need to disclose that fact.

    Depression apparently runs rampant in Peterson’s family. It is a familial predisposition. He resisted anti-depressants as long as he could, but he found they were necessary for him to function. He clearly thinks quite well; they certainly don’t seem to cloud his mind. He’s not holding himself out as some paragon of sainthood, either, just as a flawed human being who has some knowledge, skills, and insight. Antidepressants don’t change that in the least.

  26. Gordon Says:

    I agree with Neo here, although I am not a psychologist, and I don’t play one on TV. I consider myself fortunate that I’ve really had two serious depressive episodes and a few minor ones. My wife says she can tell just by looking at me when I’m in one.

    The two bad ones really really sucked, sucked very much. One lasted weeks and it was like the static on an untuned TV, 24 hours a day, in your brain. The other lasted maybe two days, and it was like my personality had been switched off. Had that one lasted any longer I would have been at the clinic door begging for a pill.

    I don’t like taking meds. But depression kills good people.

  27. The Other Chuck Says:


    My nephew’s oldest boy committed suicide because of anti-depressants. As you can imagine it was a devastating event that left all of us scarred a little. I have a very bad attitude about them, although I know they have their place in medical treatment. I sincerely believe that the military and the VA are over-prescribing them for PTSD and that they are the main cause of suicides in our troops and veterans. I’ve listened to Michael Savage about this and agree with him. That Peterson or other medically knowledgeable people choose to take them is their business. But I have a problem with someone like him, who now has a following in the millions if his youtube videos are an indication, pushing anti-depressants by example.

  28. The Other Chuck Says:


    I was blown away by Peterson’s give and take with Paglia. He has a superior intellect and an ability to cut through bogus arguments to the core concepts. His wide range of knowledge puts him in the category of a Renaissance Man. As I said praising him, he is about the best the right has to offer, and to that extent I’m a reluctant fan. This is my objective opinion of him.

    Just as you have acknowledged having a subjective “crush” on him, I’m turned off. He has a tragic sense of life and tells his students that everyone’s life is a tragedy. While you may see him as a brave upright example of manhood, I see him as someone needing a crutch – all the time. He has a dour demeanor barely hiding behind forced laughter. I don’t like the fact that he paraded his daughter’s afflictions publicly, even it she was a willing subject. While these are my subjective personal opinions and don’t count for much in the court of public opinion, his pill pushing is another matter. Here he is telling students how great anti-depressants are in combating suicidal depression:


    And here is the truth:


  29. om Says:

    Other Chuck:

    It is tragic that the anti-depressant medication didn’t work for your extended family member. They have worked for my spouse. Like any drug there are side effects. The other therapies aren’t perfect either and folks die at their own hand when treated or untreated by non-pharmacological methods.

  30. Ymar Sakar Says:

    In the time of the Alt Right, JP is certainly a cult figure.

    I’m puzzled by that essay that compares Peterson to C.S. Lewis. To me, C.S. Lewis focuses on Christianity and a person’s relationship with God.

    I can see why the Last Crusade faction in the Alt Right, led by figures such as John C Wright, would associate JP to CS Lewis. CS Lewis wrote a significant amount on manhood or was it chivalry, can’t remember.

    Much of this wasn’t their intent but merely the result of Lewis’ era being different from ours, and thus the moderns have found a thirst for ancient knowledge and customs.

  31. Ymar Sakar Says:

    As for the Vatican, Rulers of Evil, read that for a concise history of the Vatican on temporal matters.

    It glosses over a lot of details, but Born in Blood filled in the parts that I needed for my research.

    Taking medicine usually isn’t the problem. The problem is listening to and following blindly the words of the credentialed elites and doctor classes. Like lawyers, having people who are an elite branch, such as the MSM, merely means people are asking to be enslaved. That feels good when the slaves have good prospects and medical care. When the medical care starts impoding, then people complain and start riots. Assuming the VA Care and national healthcare allowed them to live up until then.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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