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Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic (Bk Currents) Paperback – 1 Oct 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler; 2 edition (1 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576753573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576753576
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 2.1 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 680,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John de Graaf is the national coordinator of Take Back Your Time Day, an annual event scheduled for October 24th, (see and a frequent speaker on issues of overwork and over-consumption in America. David Wann has written and edited seven books and hundreds of articles, and has produced many videos and television programs about sustainable designs and lifestyles. He is the current president of the Sustainable Futures Society, a non-profit organisation. Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University, Thomas H. Naylor is a writer and social critic who has also taught at Middlebury College and the University of Vermont. As an international management consultant specializing in strategic management, Dr. Naylor has advised major corporations and governments in over thirty countries.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Every civic minded person will get a lot out of reading this book.

Although a lot of the information is quite depressing,when you digest what you read, you soon realise that your efforts can make a difference.

I wanted to read this book ages ago but thought it might be a little "dry", it isn't at all!

It is well written, balanced and I think every one over the age of 16 should read it before they decide what they want out of life.

I am already trying to live frugally, but I know that having read this book, I will be trying even harder to live lightly on this Earth.

I believe that reading this book will have saved me money as I will now analyse future purchases with much greater scutiny.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very important book. The idea that the desire for "stuff" has become an epidemic is a compelling one. One of the most chilling comments is made in relation to having our heads full of manipulative advertising messages. "The question is, if we get evicted from our own minds, who are we?". We cannot continue to mine the earth indefinitely and yet as the book points out most of us do not make the connection between what we consume and where it comes from. I have only given a 4 star rating for 2 reasons. At times it reads like a very long magazine article, hammering home the same point repeatedly with too many quotes and examples. Secondly the writers seem to be straining at the leash, but just about resisting the urge to promote religion as a positive force. This for me is a major turn off. But hey, they are americans.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a book everybody should read! May even change the way you relate to the material driven life of the western world.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice new book really worth it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x96ee71ec) out of 5 stars 139 reviews
171 of 178 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x970efea0) out of 5 stars A Book to Read Again and Again 12 Jun. 2001
By Hope Marston - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It's hard sometimes to live a simple life surrounded by "affluenza" and its effects. So for me, the book "Affluenza" has been really helpful in reminding me what's important in my life - it's not the "stuff." It's my life that I value. It's not all that's advertised to make me hungry for what I don't want. It's remembering what I do want in my life, and prioritizing that above those tantalizing baubles that are offered over and over again to deplete my bank account - to put me in debt - to put me in slavery to my possessions.
So, thank the authors for writing this important book that reminds me again and again who I am and why I have chosen to step back from all the glitter and acquisition. It reminds me why I work a 30 hour week, instead of a 40 hour week, and why I even hope to pare that down to a 25 hour week - so that the rest of my time can be spent on my life!
I like it that "Affluenza" isn't preachy or grim. It's light and humorous. It's fast-paced, like a television program - only without commercials. It's stock full of information about how we got to this place where money and things outweigh time with our families and time volunteering to make our communities stronger. And it gives examples and ideas about how to move forward into a place where each of us can get out of debt, and shift our priorities to what we truly value in this life that we only get to live one time.
David Horsey's cartoons are right on the money. They're witty and apt. The writing is visual and well-paced. Can you tell - I like this book! And it couldn't have come at a better time. A lot of us need to see its message. As for me, it's one of those books that I'll keep around to refer to when I feel particularly plagued by the lure of keeping up with any Joneses.
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x970efef4) out of 5 stars "Fast Food Nation" for the shop-'til-you-drop set 18 May 2004
By M. Keller - Published on
Format: Paperback
Although it's been some months since I finished "Affluenza," the book has stayed with me (and hasn't at the same time: I've loaned it to many appreciative friends). One of its most significant effects was helping me achieve what no financial planning book before it had: for the first time in the decade since leaving college, I've completely paid off my credit card debt. How did "Affluenza" help me do that? Well, if you read "Fast Food Nation" and thought you'd never want another to eat another Quarter Pounder again, you'll be able to relate; what Schlosser does for McDonald's, De Graff and Co. do for the mall. In a clear, straightforward fashion, "Affluenza" looks at the paralyzing effects the fever to consume brings upon us and offers simple strategies to start curbing the disease at its core -- even if that's just by forcing you to ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" before your next purchase.
Contrary to some of the reviews, I didn't find the book to be preachy or pedantic; actually, it was the book's common sense approach to the suffocating realities of our consumer society that made it so easy, in the months that followed finishing the book, to start spending sensibly, when at all. Armed with a new skepticism as to whether happiness was just one more swipe of the credit card away, I was able to put items back, turn deals down, and walk away with my money still in my pocket -- never once regretting the decision NOT to buy, in marked contrast to the many times I felt a hollow dread after dragging home another piece of crap to take its place atop the heap of crap bought before it (just like the book's cover).
If you're a person for whom happiness is carrying a plethora of brightly-colored shopping bags to your car on a Saturday afternoon, this may not be the book for you. If, however, you've noticed that you're drowning in stuff but no closer to the shore of contentment, this book can inject a little sanity into our otherwise credit-crazy world. I'm not promising it will get you out of credit card debt -- but it just might attack your drive to spend at its roots and give you a little more breathing room -- which, for less than $13, is a bargain you just can't pass up, don't you think?
123 of 136 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b80c8c) out of 5 stars Mr. President, Have you Read This Book? 20 Aug. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Sure, I've heard about the disappearing rainforests and the many species of animals and plants becoming endangered or extinct, but that doesn't really have anything to do with me, I live in America, the most affluent country in the history of the world. Yes, there are some problems with industrial pollution and other environmental issues but not in my community and besides that's the concern of all those 'environmentalists.' I can go to the mall to buy anything I want as long as I have a credit card, and life is good.
Not so fast! It's time to stop and think about what is really happening to us. How many Americans are working in jobs that don't energize them? How many spend hours every week shopping and commuting, but only minutes with their kids or their friends? How many feel 'used up' by a glitzy, gaudy American Dream? The book Affluenza is common ground for many victims who toss and turn, trying to wake up from a value system in which people are too often treated like machines, and machines are too often treated like people. If a million Americans read this book, we may have a shot at moving beyond the short-term illusion many call 'success.' The book offers welcome news that the Joneses have surrendered! Standing on their front porch, they plead, 'Please don't try to keep up with us anymore!' What a concept - that we might be able to cooperate with and support the Joneses, rather than compete with them...
Do we have a good thing going, or a good thing going bad? The fact is, beating affluenza is not about 'giving up' the good life, but getting it back. The strength of this book is that it successfully presents critical information on the anthropology and psychology of America without stripping the reader of hope. Yes, affluenza undermines our personal health, our family life, our communities, and our environment, but the authors offer us a way out. Affluenza has a three-step strategy: to present the symptoms of a disease that often feels deceptively pleasant, like an addiction; to trace the epidemic back to its historical sources; and then to offer dozens of concrete ways to Beat the Bug. The strategy works! The humor, the great satirical cartoons, and the well-researched presentation helped open my mind up and evaluate what's important for me individually, and also what needs to be done throughout our society. This is a great book for book clubs, church discussion groups, high school and college classrooms. Get it, read it, and tell your friends about it!
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x970f1a20) out of 5 stars There is a Cure! 11 Jun. 2001
By Claire Shepherd Lanier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What I like best about Affluenza is its' groundedness in the familiar icons and rites of American culture. It critiques and lampoons many of our foibles,frustrations, flaws, and white-hot flashes of brilliance. With great, often humorous bedside manner and expert grasp of its' subject over consumption -- it takes the temperature and pulse of our daily lives to make a troubling diagnosis: individually and collectively, our culture is plugged into life support systems that are out of control! Yikes!
With structure and content that flow accessibly, the authors move us beyond a stupefied state of denial, forcing us to admit that changes are necessary. The reader is reassured that affluenza is curable -- that millions have already kicked the addictive virus.
I learned 81% of the worlds population would qualify for Americas food stamp program, and that America spends more just on garbage bags than 110 countries spend for everything! Isnt there something a little perverse about our economic dominance and our environmental obliviousness? A sentence from the books cures section really made sense to me: Think about all the money we spend to fight various diseases, many of which (like allergies, cancer, diabetes, and stroke) are caused or aggravated by affluent lifestyles. Then remember that affluenza is one disease we can cure by spending less money, not more.
Affluenza's story-told reminders about other kinds of wealth besides money make it an important book for our distracted, obsessed society. I hope this book is widely read in America and overseas, where international media routinely peddle the glitz of American culture without sufficient mention of the real costs. I watched the PBS program Affluenza several years ago, and found it to be one of the most effective programs on this topic I'd seen. I wasn't disappointed to discover that the book version is even more comprehensive, accessible, and compelling.
***** Claire Lanier, Taos, New Mexico
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x970f13d8) out of 5 stars One Of Those Books That Makes You Go Hmmmm 14 Feb. 2005
By Bruce Allen - Published on
Format: Paperback
This was a great book that opened my eyes to a lot ot things going on here at home and indeed around the world. A truly eye-opening account on the downfall of society and what went wrong with the "American Dream". From the days when a credit card was only offered to a select few, to a nation teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, it really made me stop and re-examine my priorities in life and what matters most to me.

I agree with review below in that we have become so materialistic within the last few decades that we have lost our way as a nation and as a society. We have become a nation of people who only want the "best of the best", at any cost. We are raising a whole generation of kids and teenagers who simply don't understand the value of money because they feel it's their God-given right to have anything they want--or else. Many of us are so deep in debt that we never stop to realize the consequences that it's going to have on future generations. We rely on cheap, imported goods that has turned us into a throw-away society. The Middle-class is collapsing, poverty is increasing, credit use is out of control. We are outsourcing jobs to China and Mexico where cheap labor is abundant and plentiful. We have more credit cards than money, closets full of junk that we never use, 62 inch TV sets and $1000 home theatre systems. Back when I was growing up, a 20" TV set was the standard. Today, the MINIMUM that qualifies for a decent set is 32 inches! VCR's have been replaced by DVD recorders, TIVO's, and a host of other digital gadgetry. We have an "all or nothing" attitude when it comes to determining what we want out of life. GIMME GIMME GIMME! Me, Myself, and I. All part of this selfish, "me generation" that has devoured our culture and ruined our financial future. The authors do offer some hope that this current trend CAN be reversed, but not before it's almost too late. I think we all need to sit back and take a good look around us and start asking ourselves a LOT of questions about who we really are, where we are heading, and how we are going to get there.

I highly recommend that EVERYONE have this book in their home library. It should also be required reading in every college and university across the country, particularly for those studying sociology and economics. Am I worried about my future? YOU BET! BUT the book also offers us hope and consolation that we can stop this nonsense right now and reverse the trend before it's too late. The choice is ultimately up to all of us. I wish you all the best.
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