We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–“tribes.” This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

The first thread follows frontier settlers often preferring the lifestyle of native tribes and never vice versa. But, as far as I know, the frontier farming communities were also ‘small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding’ so the difference doesn’t seem to be captured well by the ‘tribe’ concept. ‘Being a puritan sucks’ is a much simpler hypothesis.

The second and third threads follow veterans returning to normal society and survivors of disaster. Again, the story is compelling, but it’s hard to separate ‘being part of a tribe’ from ‘exposure to danger’ or ‘having clear direction/goals’.

The core idea resonates with me and I think aspects can be seen in many other places eg small companies, sports teams, climbing partners etc. But it’s not clearly demarcated or supported here. The book is pointing in the vague direction of a concept that I feel is probably important but there is much more work to be done before it’s clear.