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Starred Review. Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking. A bout with breast cancer puts the author face to face with this new breed of frenetic positive thinking promoted by everyone from scientists to gurus and activists. Chided for her anger and distress by doctors and fellow cancer patients and survivors, Ehrenreich explores the insistence upon optimism as a cultural and national trait, discovering its symbiotic relationship with American capitalism and how poverty, obesity, unemployment and relationship problems are being marketed as obstacles that can be overcome with the right (read: positive) mindset. Building on Max Weber's insights into the relationship between Calvinism and capitalism, Ehrenreich sees the dark roots of positive thinking emerging from 19th-century religious movements. Mary Baker Eddy, William James and Norman Vincent Peale paved the path for today's secular $9.6 billion self-improvement industry and positive psychology institutes. The author concludes by suggesting that the bungled invasion of Iraq and current economic mess may be intricately tied to this reckless national penchant for self-delusion and a lack of anxious vigilance, necessary to societal survival. (Oct.)
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No critic completely dismissed Ehrenreich's critique of America's "happiness" culture. But reviewers' enthusiasm for her critique seemed to depend on their assessment of the book's moral urgency. Several critics felt that the message of Bright-Sided was essential to readers in the aftermath of last year's economic meltdown. But others felt that Ehrenreich's ideas, while relevant, had been better expressed by others. They also criticized the author for "cheap shots" and outdated research. For example, she criticizes the book Who Moved My Cheese?, which has long been superseded by other, even sillier titles. But many readers may react like Hanna Rosin, who wrote in the New York Times Book Review that even when she did not agree with Ehrenreich's arguments, she felt less guilty about not sharing in our smiley :-) culture.See all Editorial Reviews
This book is hilarious. Ehrenreich truly possesses the gift of wit and a flare for dark humor, and she uses it brilliantly here. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Jennifer Robinson
As much as I enjoyed 'Nickled and Dimed', This particular book is a lot deeper in critical thought. Rather than a semi biographical story, Barbara shares some of her own family... Read morePublished 1 month ago by David
A voice of reason in this ridiculously and often insincerely "cheerful" world. A book for the rest of us who cringe at the facade of faux happiness. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kirsten B.
I love how Barbara Ehrenreich challenges the current mindset of "positivity". I think it's so important for us to learn to validate our emotions and that of others... Read morePublished 2 months ago by AnnaGriff
Ehrenreich provides an antidote to everyone who believes that success is solely a result of attitude. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amy Merrick
Positive Thinking’s Negative Side
Positive thinking has become an all-pervasive American philosophy in recent decades, dominating our religion, politics, and popular... Read more
Another brave undertaking by an insightful sociologist who somehow never lost her ability to write convincingly and engagingly in grad school. Read morePublished 3 months ago by John H. Matthews
What can I say? I love Barbara Ehrenreich! I read "Nickeled and Dimed" and couldn't put it down and couldn't stop feeling it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by JDA007