The 2021-22 Common Book is "The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World."

Winona State University Common Book Project will feature "The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World" by Jamil Zaki as its 2021-22 common book.

About the Book

"In this landmark book, Jamil Zaki gives us a revolutionary perspective on empathy: Empathy can be developed, and, when it is, people, relationships, organizations, and cultures are changed." --Carol Dweck, author of "Mindset."

Empathy is in short supply. Isolation and tribalism are rampant. We struggle to understand people who aren't like us, but find it easy to hate them. Studies show that we are less caring than we were even thirty years ago. In 2006, Barack Obama said that the United States is suffering from an "empathy deficit." Since then, things only seem to have gotten worse.

It doesn't have to be this way. In this groundbreaking book, Jamil Zaki shares cutting-edge research, including experiments from his own lab, showing that empathy is not a fixed trait - something we're born with or not - but rather a skill that can be strengthened through effort. He also tells the stories of people who embody this new perspective, fighting for kindness in the most difficult of circumstances. We meet a former neo-Nazi who is now helping extract people from hate groups, ex-prisoners discussing novels with the judge who sentenced them, Washington police officers changing their culture to decrease violence among their ranks and NICU nurses fine-tuning their empathy so that they don't succumb to burnout.

Written with clarity and passion, "The War for Kindness" is an inspiring call to action. The future may depend on whether we accept the challenge.

Your Assignment...

If you choose to read "The War for Kindness," incorporate what you take away from the book into your life while at the university.

The book will be adopted in numerous sections of ENG 111, College Reading and Writing, and may be adopted in other courses as well. Use this opportunity to learn more about the greater community and turn your knowledge into action.

Where to Buy

"The War for Kindness" is published by Penguin Random House and will be available from the WSU Bookstore and other booksellers.

Additionally, a packet of teaching and contextual materials for prospective adopters is available for those teaching the book.

Faculty adopters should simply list the book (ISBN 978-0451499257) on their book request through the WSU Bookstore.

Special Thanks

Funding for the Common Book Project has generously been made available by the College of Liberal Arts and the WSU Bookstore.

For more information about the project, please contact Prof. April Herndon at