Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic (Bk Currents) Paperback – 1 Oct 2005
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About the Author
John de Graaf is the national coordinator of Take Back Your Time Day, an annual event scheduled for October 24th, (see www.timeday.org) 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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?
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!
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
Having said that, I do have some complaints about the book's presentation. This edition comes on the heels of two (self-proclaimed successful) documentaries that aired on public television. This book was intended to expand on the ideas first presented there. Unfortunately, after reading the book, and never having seen the television presentations, I still got the feeling that the text was repetitive at times. Points were overkilled. The book is organized into three sections: symptons, causes and cures (for affluenza) and I found similar material repeated in all three sections. The overall feel is of an author preaching to his readership.
I say save your time and find copies of the television version. The ideas, whether or not one agrees with them, are worthy of attention, but not to this degree. At 275 pages, it still feels as if the author(s) are stretching.
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