Changing the Bully Who Rules the World

Reading and Thinking about Ethics
“An amazingly generous volume.” —BILL MCKIBBEN
Select Format

Practical, thoughtful essays—with generous selections from contemporary novelists and poets—on taming the bullies in our lives.

Bosses, partners, governments, corporations—all can act as bullies, intimidating us to their will. But changing their behavior may be in our power. In this provocative, visionary book, Carol Bly examines some of this century’s most far-ranging concepts about how to nurture ethical human beings and presents them through the lens of excellent contemporary literature.

Changing the Bully Who Rules the World is a book of hopeful, practical ideas that can hasten ethical change both in our thinking and in our behavior. Through an anthology of exceptional literature, Bly’s book asks the reader to contemplate anew the voices she presents—including works by Charles Baxter, Donald Hall, Jim Harrison, Mark Helprin, Denise Levertov, Thomas McGrath, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Oliver, Katha Pollitt, Alice Walker, Tobias Wolff, and many others—and to consider them in terms of the ideas of important thinkers in human behavior and our own experiences.

Publish Date
6 × 9 × 1.5 in
29 oz

Praise and Prizes

  • “No book I have reviewed in the last ten years deserves a wider readership than this one.”

    Catholic New Times
  • “An amazingly generous volume … Tough as she is on the ‘evil jerks,’ Carol Bly offers a real chance for them to change. I’ve seen this transformation happen just often enough not to dismiss it as a dream; perhaps this book will be a primer, a textbook, for helping it to happen much more often.”

    Bill McKibben
  • “A unique and wonderful book—filled with the courage of a moralist, the creativity of a writer, and the passion of a great soul.”

    Reginald Gibbons
    author of How Poems Think
  • “Carol Bly uses the poems, essays, and short stories of America’s preeminent writers to illustrate the bullying attitudes we’ve accepted through the years… . At the heart of the book is Bly’s belief that because we have the tools to reconnect with our ethical selves and question unethical behavior, we all should begin to do just that.”

    Minnesota Monthly
  • “Carol Bly is a one-woman army fighting moral drift and the bullies of the world. Her book will inspire others to join the fight. Changing the Bully Who Rules the World uses literature and the social sciences to examine solutions to our cultural problems. Her analysis is complex, incisive, and hopeful.”

    Mary Pipher
    author of Reviving Ophelia
  • “An astonishing book: spirited, intelligent, morally engaged, and witty. In an age saturated with ‘analysis’ and ‘theory,’ Carol Bly’s book will delight teachers of literature attentive to their own and their students’ ‘best hopes, worst fears, and serious love of life’—evoking or provoking a response on every page.”

    Michael True
    author of To Construct Peace