"Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These are the four horsemen of dysfunctional relationships."

Isom, an eighth-grade social science teacher, coach, and consultant on relationships, curriculum, and diversity, dissects the scientific and business origins of relational problems in terms of nature, culture, biology, philosophy, and sociology. The science of reasoning lies in knowing oneself and how one relates to people and things, giving ultimate freedom. Meanwhile, the business of reasoning involves interpersonal commerce that directly or indirectly affects people.

Nine chapters merge science, business, and historical perspectives of self, race, gender, family, friends, sex, food, money, and religion from the beginnings of civilization. Isom understands these mainstays affect human existence and development. He offers fascinating perspectives on money (“only through money can a nobody become a somebody”), food, religion, gender, race, and sexual mores. Money dynamics enthrall as he explains how Black debt is a key industry for generating White wealth, differentiating among oppressive debt, working debt, and enriching debt. Likewise, his interpretation of the obesity epidemic intrigues, as Isom proves Black women stigmatize obesity less than White women. Further, his book teaches that lobbies control food production, and religion is about politics. Gender, not sex, is learned. Sexual standards fluctuate throughout history, with homosexuality accepted in ancient Greece and less so today. The concept of race is a tool of destruction.

Despite an almost cynical view of humans as commodities, Isom nevertheless molds a rational philosophy where humans can only control themselves, not others, and free thinking is encouraged, yet “no one gets to where they want to be alone.” With prodigious research and ambitious historical summaries and interpretations, Isom helps one see the problems that saturate life via an honest look at self through the ages. Historical origins of societal viewpoints on each of the nine categories lend perspective and a fresh look at modern-day mistakes and successes.

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