From Publishers Weekly
*Starred Review.* If exuberance is "the passion for life," then Jamison's enthusiasm and sense of wonder about the subject proves as fine an example as any examined in her newest work. Expert in the arena of mood and temperament, Jamison (An Unquiet Mind
; Night Falls Fast
; Touched with Fire
) detours from her usual analysis of mood disorders in favor of the livelier side of personality. She examines the contagious nature of exuberance, which she defines as "a psychological state characterized by high mood and high energy," offering diverse examples that range from John Muir and FDR to Mary Poppins and Peter Pan. Having in mind the simply put idea that "those who are exuberant act," the author details the energetic efforts of scientists, naturalists, politicians and even her meteorologist father. The dual nature of humanity is a common theme, as Jamison distinguishes between introversion and extroversion, nature and nurture, and healthy emotion and pathology. Such analysis is at times thorough to the point of redundancy, and even the most interested reader may find parts of the book exhausting to navigate. But Jamison makes up for it with her contagious enthusiasm for the subject—a mood that will make readers feel, well, exuberant. Perhaps Snoopy explains it best when, as exemplified in a comic strip here, he leaps for joy, waxing philosophically: "To those of us with real understanding, dancing is the only pure art form.... To live is to dance, to dance is to live."
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From Scientific American
"Exuberance," Jamison says, "is an abounding, ebullient, effervescent emotion." She celebrates a galaxy of exuberant figures. Theodore Roosevelt was "incapable of being indifferent." Wilson Bentley, a New England farmer who made himself a respected expert on the crystal structure of snowflakes, "was as exuberant in pursuit of them as they were in their numbers." The eminent physicist Richard Feynman "was an exuberant teacher in every way." Jamison also celebrates exuberant characters in literature, including Tigger, Toad and Snoopy. Professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she is concerned that exuberance "has not been a mainstay of psychological research" but sees signs that it is receiving more scholarly attention. She has produced an exuberant book.
Editors of Scientific American