by Barbara Ehrenreich - £8.99 Granta Books (2010)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781847081735 | ISBN 10: 1847081738
This brilliant new book from the author of Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch explores the tyranny of positive thinking, and offers a history of how it came to be the dominant mode in the USA.
Ehrenreich conceived of the book when she became ill with breast cancer, and found herself surrounded by pink ribbons and bunny rabbits and platitudes. She balked at the way her anger and sadness about having the disease were seen as unhealthy and dangerous by health professionals and other sufferers. In her droll and incisive analysis of the cult of cheerfulness, Ehrenreich also ranges across contemporary religion, business and the economy, arguing, for example, that undue optimism and a fear of giving bad news sowed the seeds for the current banking crisis. She argues passionately that the insistence on being cheerful actually leads to a lonely focus inwards, a blaming of oneself for any misfortunes, and thus to political apathy.
Rigorous, insightful and bracing as always, and also incredibly funny, Smile or Die uncovers the dark side of the 'have a nice day' nation.
(Price & availability last checked: November 2018)