Bright-Sided : How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

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A sharp-witted knockdown of America's love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realismAmericans are a "positive" people--cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity. In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to "prosper" you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of "positive psychology" and the "science of happiness." Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes--like mortgage defaults--contributed directly to the current economic crisis. With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America's penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out "negative" thoughts. On a national level, it's brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best--poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 235 pages
  • 154.94 x 223.52 x 30.48mm | 408.23g
  • Metropolitan Books
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 0805087494
  • 9780805087499
  • 241,342

About Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of "Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing in the Streets" and "Blood Rites," among others. A frequent contributor to "Harper's "and "The Nation," she has also been a columnist at "The New York Times" and "Time "magazine. She is the winner of the" L.A. Times" Book Prize for Current Interest and ALA Notable Books for Nonfiction. Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a bustling mining town. She studied physics at Reed College, and earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. Rather than going into laboratory work, she got involved in activism, and soon devoted herself to writing her innovative journalism. She lives and works in more

Review quote

"Deeply satisfying. . . I have waited my whole life for someone to write a book like "Bright-sided.""--"The New York Times Book Review" "A brilliant expose of our smiley-faced culture." "Insightful, smart, and witty. . . Ehrenreich makes important points about what happens to those who dare to warn of the worst."--"BusinessWeek" "Ehrenreich's examination of the history of positive thinking is a tour de force of well-tempered snark, culminating in a persuasive indictment of the bright-siders as the culprits in our current financial mess."--"The Washington Post" ""Bright-sided "scours away the veneer of conventional wisdom with pointed writings and reporting. . . . Helping us face the truth is Ehrenreich at her best."--"The Miami Herald" "Contrarians rejoice! With a refreshingly caustic tone, Barbara Ehrenreich takes on the relentlessly upbeat attitude many Americans demand of themselves, and more damagingly, of others."--"USA Today" "A rousing endorsement of skepticism, realism, and critical thinking."--"San Francisco Bay Guardian" "Ehrenreich delivers her indictments of the happiness industry with both authority and wit. . . . "Bright-sided "offers both a welcome tonic and a call to action--and a blessed relief from all those smiley faces."--"The Plain Dealer" "Precisely crafted, hard-hitting. . . analysis of the national mass fantasy of wishful thinking "--"The Dallas Morning News" "Relentless and persuasive. . . In a voice urgent and passionate, Ehrenreich offers us neither extreme [between positive thinking and being a spoilsport] but instead balance: joy, happiness, yes; sadness, anger, yes. She favors life with a clear head, eyes wide open."--"San Francisco Chronicle" "Ehrenreich reprises her role as Dorothy swishing back the curtain on a great and powerful given."--"The Oregonian" "A message that deserves to be heard."--"Jezebel" "Gleefully pops the positive-thinking bubble. . . Amazingly, she'll make you laugh, albeit ruefullshow more

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7,002 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 22% (1,550)
4 38% (2,661)
3 29% (2,048)
2 8% (577)
1 2% (166)
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