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A truly lost opportunity!
on June 23, 2011
The book starts brilliantly. Professor Seligman offers a revision to his famous theory of happiness and puts forward such a thrilling hypothesis, that I was hesitant to put the book down for a while.
However, and as the reader impatiently waits for the good doctor to explain his new theory in details - after all, it is easy to say you need "engagement" without defining what engagement really is and how it can be achieved - the book moves away from the message and turns into a boring, uninteresting manifesto in defence of positive psychology in general, and professor Seligman's credentials in particular.
He spends more time, trying to sell the idea than he does explaining it, as if he is making an extraordinary effort to convert unbelievers, than to preach to the already converted. Considering that the majority of those who would buy the book are among the latter group, I am baffled why he decided to turn this into a marketing material!
The book continues with more validating examples of positive psychology's successes, including two excruciating chapters about Seligman's work with the military. His repeatedly defensive arguments - specially those targeted at Barbara Ehrenreich and her likeminded entourage - are more suitable for an op-ed column than for a book of this calibre.
Toward the end, Seligman steps into an economic debate about the financial crisis, with such flimsy analogies that makes you wonder why this titan of the psychology should step out of his field of expertise so carelessly!
All being said, "Flourish" is a good book, and for those who are looking for fresh ideas, it does provide enough rich and valuable content to justify the time/money invested. It is just disappointing that the book stops short of being a ground-braking masterpiece, and settles for - well - a merely interesting read.
As for those who wanted to know more about Professor's new theory - myself included - "Flourish" is not the book we were waiting for. Let's hope his next book is.