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Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World Paperback – June 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia, USA.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (UK) (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847081355
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847081353
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
My background is that in January 2009 I had major neurological surgery. I was given a multi-bacterial, hospital borne post-operative infection which was badly diagnosed. Part of my face was eaten away by infection and my eye was also disfigured by errors during the surgery. The upshot is that I have been left grossly facially disfigured for life. The infection also utterly destroyed my hair. I was a very attractive woman before this was done to me. I have a number of complaints about the NHS doctors and nurses whom I have encountered, and it is not appropriate to air them here.
Amongst comments from inept medical "professionals" that have infuriated me have been "No you're not attractive any more and never will be again, but you should see it as an opportunity to develop another aspect of your personality" from a plain as a pikestaff registrar who resembled a giant poodle and unbelievably worked as a specialist in reconstructing damaged faces. And from the Lead Clinician plastic surgeon who had been partly responsible for this situation: "You WILL feel happier about you face......I have patients who look like you who are happy to be seen in public".Mostinfuriating of all "You mustn't be angry. It's very bad for you. Try being more positive."
In my view, directed anger is not unhealthy. Repressed anger is.
I have looked at a number of facial disfigurement websites and found them sadly lacking, and in particular loathe some of the suggested strategies for dealing with disfigurement. One of the more inept suggested that disfigured people subjected to unwanted, intrusive and sometimes abusive attention from strangers should see it as an overture to making a new friend. Now - who on earth would want friends like that!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been an admirer of Barbara E. for a long time. She's a good writer and makes interesting things even more interesting. The book mainly deals with how the corporate, business, medical and religious worlds demand a "positive" attitude.. or else! Entertaining read. The only thing I was disappointed with was that this book had previously been released under another title .. "Bright Sided" and so I bought a book I had already read. I did like the book a lot, so I read it again. I do think it is a little sneaky for publishers...and Amazon.. to pull this trick.. and if they do they ought to advise the buyer about it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Here is a great book which will send shivers down many, as it uncovers the myths of an overly positive nation and how it so serves various industries there. Hats of to the Author which goes all the way on this theme.

For years many of us have found a touch of nostalgia with all this US home grown upbeat, positive, smile and be happy all the time sermons. Today we know through this book, how it has served corporate America, the Psychology profession many churches leaders, motivational speakers and more. And how can one be against positive? The author shows us how it fooled the nation.

In this reality check sobering review, easy to read at that, Mrs. Ehrenreich points out the dark side of a unrealistic positive view. Today we see what all went wrong when most people believe US house prices can only go up forever, the US can only excel and loosing one's job can be, well positive.

The 'slam dunk' brain washing of books/videos like "The Secret" only served to nurture this erroneous self serving belief on how positive thinking nearly fooled America and the world... as an ideological force in America which "encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune and blame only ourselves for out fate". It's a timely wake-up call to America. Bravo to Mrs. Barbara Ehrenreich.

Paul A. Renaud.
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Format: Paperback
I just love the concept of this book.

The way that positive thinking is used by some people to spare themselves from having to listen to you, help you or really try to understand the reality of illness when you are seriously ill is something that comes up a lot in the chat groups for ill people I am a member of. On the surface they are being kind and offering you 'positive thoughts' but it is really about this serving their needs rather than yours.

Expressing legitimate anger is helpful and necessary. If you do this it passes quickly! Far better to vent for a little while to friends who understand than to repress all your feelings and so end up feeling unhappy far longer, in the end.

The chapter on positive thinking and illness was good but really only scratched the surface. I was somewhat disappointed by it as there was so much that could have been said on this topic and I'd have loved lots more comments on this topic to have been in the book. But then I am biased and this is a special interest subject of mine and probably this short chapter was more than enough for the average reader, so fair enough.

The way the author ties in positive thinking brainwashing to political apathy in the last chapter was very well done too and I couldn't agree more with her conclusions. As someone involved in trying to fire people up to participate in activism I absolutely find the 'nicey nicey at all costs' mindlessly positive attitude to be an enormous obstacle in effecting real positive change. Just enormous.

I highly recommend at least searching your local library for a copy of this book, it deserves to be widely read.
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