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Bright-Sided : How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America - Barbara Ehrenreich

Bright-Sided

How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America

Paperback

Published: 3rd August 2010
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A "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER
Americans 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 is the key to getting success and prosperity. Or so we are told.
In this utterly original debunking, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking and shows its reach into every corner of American life, from Evangelical megachurches to the medical establishment, and, worst of all, to the business community, where the refusal to consider negative outcomes--like mortgage defaults--contributed directly to the current economic disaster. With the myth-busting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of positive thinking: personal self-blame and national denial. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best--poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of numerous books, including "Dancing in the Streets" and "The" "New York Times" bestsellers "Nickel and Dimed" and "Bait and Switch." A frequent contributor to "Harper's" and "The Nation," she has also been a columnist at "The New York Times" and "Time" magazine.

In "Bright-sided," Barbara Ehrenreich reveals how the positive thinking movement, though seemingly harmless, has in fact deluded America and played a role in some of the most destructive events in recent U.S. history. Far from just a "healthy mindset," bright-siding is an epidemic of self-deception that has spread to all circles of American life, from preachers who celebrate the power of prayer, to doctors who promote optimism's healing abilities. It led officials to overlook clues of 9/11 and overestimate the strength of New Orleans' levees, and enabled the business world to make egregiously unsafe loans that caused the worst financial crisis since World War II. Ehrenreich exposes the consequences of the belief that positive thinking is the key to achieving success and prosperity--a notion which, at its most dangerous, prevents people from even considering the negative outcomes of major events or their own actions. "In this hard-hitting but honest appraisal, America's cultural skeptic Barbara Ehrenreich turns her focus on the muddled American phenomenon of positive thinking. She exposes the pseudoscience and pseudointellectual foundation of the positive-thinking movement for what it is: a house of cards. This is a mind-opening read."--Michael Shermer, author of "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time"

"Barbara Ehrenreich wants to make clear that she is not a spoilsport. 'No one can call me a sourpuss, ' she declared. 'I have a big foot in the joy camp.' She is the author of "Dancing in the Streets," a history of 'collective joy, ' she notes, and a lot of fun at parties. So her new book, "Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America," should not be mistaken for a curmudgeonly rant. It is serious social history.Many of the 17 books that Ms. Ehrenreich has written during the past three and half decades have taken her into alien worlds. In her fantastically successful 2001 book, "Nickel and Dimed," for example, she details her experience of trying to get by on the salary of an unskilled, minimum-wage worker. By contrast, this newest volume is based on her stay in a world that she became intimately familiar with: the smiley-faced, pink-ribboned, positive-thinking culture that surrounds breast cancer patients . . . In "Bright-sided," she traces the roots of the nation's blithe sunniness to a reaction against Calvinist gloom and the limits of medical science in the first half of the 19th century. Starting with Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, perhaps one of the first American New Age faith healers, she draws a line to Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science; the psychologist William James; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Norman Vincent Peale, who published "The Power of Positive Thinking" in 1952; and the toothy television minister Joel Osteen, who preaches the gospel of prosperity."--Patricia Cohen, "The New York Times
""When I finished Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America," I went in search of a stiff drink--or something that would allow me to escape, if only briefly, the feeling that I have been blind to the unyielding grip that positive thinking has on our culture. Very little I have read elsewhere has suggested that the current recession is good for us, but Ehrenreich implies that the implosion of our economy may bring us to our senses and that reason and common sense might have a chance to disempower the foolish, self-serving and dangerous promotion of positive thinking reaching into all areas of our lives: our health, jobs, science, religion, politics. She is relentless--and persuasive--in her determination to convince us of this. Her notes run to 15 pages of titles of papers, articles, books and television interviews she has researched to support her contention that the unwarranted optimism urged on us by church and corporations, by medical and psychological 'experts, ' has distorted the reality of the disaster we now find ourselves facing . . . So what's with all this negativity Ehrenreich forces on us? Isn't positive thinking better than being a spoilsport? In a voice urgent and passionate, Ehrenreich offers us neither extreme but instead balance: joy, happiness, yes; sadness, anger, yes. She favors life with a clear head, eyes wide open."--Jane Juska, "San Francisco Chronicle
""We're always being told that looking on the bright side is good for us, but now we see that it's a great way to brush off poverty, disease, and unemployment, to rationalize an order where all the rewards go to those on top. The people who are sick or jobless--why, they just aren't thin

"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." --Forbes.com

"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 ruefully, as she presents how society's relentless focus on being upbeat has eroded our ability to ask--and heed--the kind of uncomfortable questions that could have fended off economic disaster." --FastCompany.com

"Ehrenreich convinced me completely. . . I hesitate to say anything so positive as that this book will change the way you see absolutely everything; but it just might." --Nora Ephron, The Daily Beast

"Ehrenreich delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer." --Kirkus, starred review

"Wide-ranging and stinging look at the pervasiveness of positive thinking. . ." --Booklist, starred review

"We're always being told that looking on the bright side is good for us, but now we see that it's a great way to brush off poverty, disease, and unemployment, to rationalize an order where all the rewards go to those on top. The people who are sick or jobless--why, they just aren't thinking positively. They have no one to blame but themselves. Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who's ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book." --Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew and What's the Matter with Kansas?

"Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil: please read this relentlessly sensible book. It's never too late to begin thinking clearly." --Frederick Crews, author of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays

"Barbara Ehrenreich's skeptical common sense is just what we need to penetrate the cloying fog that passes for happiness in America." --Alan Wolfe, author of The Future of Liberalism

"In this hilarious and devastating critique, Barbara Ehrenreich applies some much needed negativity to the zillion-dollar business of positive thinking. This is truly a text for the times." --Katha Pollitt, author of The Mind-Body Problem: Poems

"Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinker Bell will check out, and what's more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again for the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it." --Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

"In this hard-hitting but honest appraisal, America's cultural skeptic Barbara Ehrenreich turns her focus on the muddled American phenomenon of positive thinking. She exposes the pseudoscience and pseudointellectual foundation of the positive-thinking movement for what it is: a house of cards. This is a mind-opening read." --Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

"Once again, Barbara Ehrenreich has written an invaluable and timely book, offering a brilliant analysis of the causes and dimensions of our current cultural and economic crises. She shows how deeply positive thinking is embedded in our history and how crippling it is as a habit of mind." --Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History 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. "Forbes.com"

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 ruefully, as she presents how society's relentless focus on being upbeat has eroded our ability to ask--and heed--the kind of uncomfortable questions that could have fended off economic disaster. "FastCompany.com"

Ehrenreich convinced me completely. . . I hesitate to say anything so positive as that this book will change the way you see absolutely everything; but it just might. "Nora Ephron, The Daily Beast"

Ehrenreich delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking. "Publishers Weekly, starred review"

Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer. "Kirkus, starred review"

Wide-ranging and stinging look at the pervasiveness of positive thinking. . . "Booklist, starred review"

We're always being told that looking on the bright side is good for us, but now we see that it's a great way to brush off poverty, disease, and unemployment, to rationalize an order where all the rewards go to those on top. The people who are sick or jobless--why, they just aren't thinking positively. They have no one to blame but themselves. Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who's ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book. "Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew and What's the Matter with Kansas?"

Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil: please read this relentlessly sensible book. It's never too late to begin thinking clearly. "Frederick Crews, author of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays"

Barbara Ehrenreich's skeptical common sense is just what we need to penetrate the cloying fog that passes for happiness in America. "Alan Wolfe, author of The Future of Liberalism"

In this hilarious and devastating critique, Barbara Ehrenreich applies some much needed negativity to the zillion-dollar business of positive thinking. This is truly a text for the times. "Katha Pollitt, author of The Mind-Body Problem: Poems"

Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinker Bell will check out, and what's more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again for the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it. "Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything"

In this hard-hitting but honest appraisal, America's cultural skeptic Barbara Ehrenreich turns her focus on the muddled American phenomenon of positive thinking. She exposes the pseudoscience and pseudointellectual foundation of the positive-thinking movement for what it is: a house of cards. This is a mind-opening read. "Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time"

Once again, Barbara Ehrenreich has written an invaluable and timely book, offering a brilliant analysis of the causes and dimensions of our current cultural and economic crises. She shows how deeply positive thinking is embedded in our history and how crippling it is as a habit of mind. "Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History"" "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."--Forbes.com "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 ruefully, as she presents how society's relentless focus on being upbeat has eroded our ability to ask--and heed--the kind of uncomfortable questions that could have fended off economic disaster."--FastCompany.com "Ehrenreich convinced me completely. . . I hesitate to say anything so positive as that this book will change the way you see absolutely everything; but it just might."--Nora Ephron, "The Daily Beast" "Ehrenreich delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking."--"Publishers Weekly," starred review "Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer."--"Kirkus," starred review "Wide-ranging and stinging look at the pervasiveness of positive thinking. . ."--"Booklist," starred review "We're always being told that looking on the bright side is good for us, but now we see that it's a great way to brush off poverty, disease, and unemployment, to rationalize an order where all the rewards go to those on top. The people who are sick or jobless--why, they just aren't thinking positively. They have no one to blame but themselves. Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who's ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book."--Thomas Frank, author of "The Wrecking Crew "and "What's the Matter with Kansas?" "Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil: please read this relentlessly sensible book. It's never too late to begin thinking clearly."--Frederick Crews, author of "Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays " "Barbara Ehrenreich's skeptical common sense is just what we need to penetrate the cloying fog that passes for happiness in America."--Alan Wolfe, author of "The Future of Liberalism " "In this hilarious and devastating critique, Barbara Ehrenreich applies some much needed negativity to the zillion-dollar business of positive thinking. This is truly a text for the times."--Katha Pollitt, author of "The Mind-Body Problem: Poems " "Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinker Bell will check out, and what's more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again for the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it."--Christopher Hitchens, author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" "In this hard-hitting but honest appraisal, America's cultural skeptic Barbara Ehrenreich turns her focus on the muddled American phenomenon of positive thinking. She exposes the pseudoscience and pseudointellectual foundation of the positive-thinking movement for what it is: a house of cards. This is a mind-opening read."--Michael Shermer, author of "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" "Once again, Barbara Ehrenreich has written an invaluable and timely book, offering a brilliant analysis of the causes and dimensions of our current cultural and economic crises. She shows how deeply positive thinking is embedded in our history and how crippling it is as a habit of mind."--Thomas Bender, author of "A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History" "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."-Forbes.com "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 thems

ISBN: 9780312658854
ISBN-10: 0312658850
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 235
Published: 3rd August 2010
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.32 x 13.97  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.23