Smile Or Die

Barbara Ehrenreich

Published: 5 August 2010
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781847081735

About the author

Image of Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of over twenty books, including Nickel & Dimed: Undercover in Low-Wage USA, Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World and Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. She has written for Time, Harper's, the Progressive, the Nation, the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, The Times and the New Statesman. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. More about the author


‘A fascinating, persuasive and, paradoxically, smile-inducing read’ Catherine Nixey



‘A provocative dismantling of the Positive Thinking Industry, exposing it for what it is - a complete fraud’ Rosie Garland

‘An invigoratingly aggressive and lucidly intelligent attack on the multi-tentacled nonsense monster ... for all the pleasure to be taken in its acidic wit, Smile or Die is deadly serious at its core ... Fine, funny and angry’

‘Barbara Ehrenreich writes good, solid books on what's gone wrong with the world. She's a baby boomer, and what's gone wrong is that the progressive attitudes of the Sixties have turned into a corporate sell-out. She's right. Here she explains how optimism, such an important part of the US psyche, has been used perniciously’ William Leith

‘Barbara Ehrenreich's Smile of Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World finishes this list of instructively grumpy non-fiction. Ehrenreich's cancer diagnosis led those around her to tell her she needed to look on the bright side, as it would aid her recovery. She decided instead to delve into the history of positive thinking, and shows how corrosive its influence has become in the US and increasingly in the UK’ Hari Kunzru

‘Ehrenreich brilliantly shows that there's more than a little wrong with the particular role "positive thinking" has played in recent years ... Intelligent, readable and witty, Smile or Die traces this shallow, hyper-individualised happiness industry through other realms ... Superb’ Jo Littler

‘Ehrenreich explores the callous flipside of smiley-faced "bright-siding": a pervasive tendency to blame the sick or the unemployed for their own misfortune. Her rallying cry for critical thinking is rousing, and her deliciously sardonic take on human folly will, ironically, put a smile on your face’ Benjamin Evans

‘Important, scary and highly entertaining’ Carla McKay

‘In this droll incisive analysis Ehrenreich argues that undue optimism and fear of bad news can have catastrophic consequences and can even be blamed for the financial crisis’ Charlotte Vowden

‘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’ Arifa Akbar

‘Revelatory’ Colin Waters

‘This study of American optimism at its most delusional is funny, fascinating and convincing ... a highly entertaining, alarming read, and a ringing clarion call to America to brace up and remember sod's law’ Christopher Hart

‘Vindicated at last! All of us misanthropic misery guts, whingers and whiners, Seroxat-refuseniks, "walking nimbus clouds"; we grouches, saddos, naysayers, demoralisers and party-poopers - our day has dawned’

‘With wit and withering disdain, she shows how upbeat delusion is growing everywhere from the church to the office, and prescribes a dose of realism to stop the rot’

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