A delightfully witty, enjoyable read.

AMERICA THE ANXIOUS

HOW OUR PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS IS CREATING A NATION OF NERVOUS WRECKS

A Brit living in the United States exposes the dark side of the happiness business in her adopted country.

Upon moving to Silicon Valley with her techie husband, journalist and documentary maker Whippman discovered that, in the U.S., the pursuit of happiness was of prime importance. (When this book was published in England earlier this year, the title, The Pursuit of Happiness: And Why It's Making Us Anxious, did not mention America.) Naturally, she plunged into an exploration of the phenomenon, checking out what she dubs the commercial happiness machine. What might have been a tedious anti-American tirade is in fact a hilarious narrative full of barbed observations, personal anecdotes, and comical stories. In her research, the author joined anxious happiness seekers paying good money to attend the Landmark Forum, a direct descendant of Werner Erhard’s notorious “est” movement of the 1970s; took part in Wisdom 2.0, an annual conference where business leaders focus on the spiritual growth of their employees; visited the headquarters of the Zappos company, where cultural interviews of prospective employees weed out those deemed unfit at “Delivering Happiness”; and toured the offices of Facebook, famous for perfecting the art of keeping staff happy working long hours. A visit with Mormons in Utah, consistently ranked as the happiest people in America, left her wondering whether the cultural pressure to profess happiness might explain their high use of antidepressants. Closer to home, Whippman cast a cold eye on parenting techniques designed to produce always-happy children and on the pressures to present a positive outlook on Facebook and other social media. Her assessment of the positive psychology movement, one of the fastest-growing specialties in academia, is chilling. After putting the book down, readers may well agree with the author that if we want to be happy, what we really need to do is stop chasing after happiness and focus on living fuller lives.

A delightfully witty, enjoyable read.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07152-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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