Granta £8.99 (235pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Smile or Die, By Barbara Ehrenreich
Friday 13 August 2010
It is a theory, compellingly told, that may bring a smile to your lips: the cult of 'positive thinking' is all humbug. America, the land where the smiley philosophy was born, is plagued by health care inequality, gun violence, debt, and high levels of discontent.
While it might appear like a light-weight dig at the self-help section of a bookstore, Barbara Ehrenreich's argument is serious and rigorous.
She goes from analysing America's economy to the cancer care industry to demonstrate the ways in which positive thinking has become the new 'opium of the people', leaving America's feeling personally responsible for failure. She turns our attentions to greater structural inequalities, impervious to positive thought.
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