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Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by…
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Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (2001)

by John de Graaf, Thomas H Naylor (Author), David Wann (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This could have been a good book, it is a topic we should all care about. Unfortunately, the premise was weak, there was no hook, they just kept smacking around that poor dead horse. I wanted this book to be revelatory, instead it was somnambulatory. ( )
  Chris_Bulin | May 13, 2013 |
I checked this book out because it was on a list that appeared, I think, in the Food and Drink issue of the New York Times Magazine. (You'll see many others in my current or recent reading list.) I saw the television documentary on which it was based several years ago, and I have to say that this is one case where the film made its point much better than the book did. This is quite often the case with PBS-type documentaries, but usually the books based on such films at least have a number of nice photographs that the reader can gaze on at leisure. Affluenza is illustrated primarily with cartoons, and not very good ones at that. To be fair, since the film was made and the book published, the same ground has been gone over and over in countless articles and books, so that it's all rather old hat even though the problems described persist. The fact that the boom times during which the book was written have ended brings some 20-20 hindsight, but I must confess that I skimmed the last several chapters extremely quickly. Perhaps one good thing to come out of the recession will be that books like this will become curiosities of a bygone age, describing a condition that no longer exists. In the meantime, most people can skip this book. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
What an eye opener. Everyone needs to read this. Speaks volumes about the state of our beings. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Mar 23, 2011 |
Originally a one hour special on PBS about overconsumption in the 1990s, the book Affluenza expands on what the show had to say on the subject. The first two sections section of the book covers how American society shifted over to a consumer society from a more frugal and saving society. The shift came from post-World War II prosperity, the growth of suburbia, continued influence of advertising, and other factors, leading to now, with people having very large houses, storage units, working longer and longer hours with less vacations, and continuing declines in reported quality of life. Part three covers ways to shift one's life from this high focus on stuff back to focusing on community and family and the world around us. Given the recent economic collapses, I think more Americans would benefit from reading and applying the techniques in this book.

I do have one disagreement with a statement in the book. One of the suggestions made for less consumption of meat, because of cattle using up so much grain and water in their raising. First, when cows are fed properly on the food they are designed to eat (grass, NOT grain, cows get sick on grain), they actually enhance overall quality of both the meat produced and the land on which they graze. Secondly, the implication in this statement that people can eat the grain is questionable, since there are so many people with gluten issues as is, and that a heavily grain based diet is potentially one of the big causes for so much chronic illness in Americans.
I do think Americans eat too much food, period. Not simply meat. Among our collective affluenza, "we" are obsessed with the idea of getting the highest volume of food for the least amount of cost. Never mind the quality of the food, or how the animals are treated, or how much fertilizer needs to be dumped on fallow land because it's being overtaxes by monocultures.

Otherwise, I highly recommend the book. In fact I think it's close to necessary reading. ( )
  quantumbutterfly | Jan 21, 2011 |
I’m not sure why I enjoyed this (slightly) more than The Paradox of Choice that I also recently finished. They both deal with essentially the same issue – we gringos are surrounded by, and thus seduced into acquiring too much junk and the resulting depression from debt and/or the process of wading through endless options harshes our buzz. Perhaps Affluenza’s cartoon illustration inclusions are better? Maybe it’s the goofy “As seen on PBS” cover graphic? At the very least, my favorite/most dismal baseball team finally won a game so my mood is slightly elevated recently.

Here the authors interview and grab quotes, studies, and anecdotes from a wide ranging cast of characters to illuminate how the typical US citizen’s priorities have become most skewed within a society that is increasingly defined by the GDP metric. Tidbits from economists, suburbanites, New Agers, the “Good Book,” and marketing experts cast illumination on the dreadful plague we (or at least some) experience as the forty hour work week and easily procured credit. Written ten years back, it’s simultaneously dated in certain aspects (access to network TV used to be free?) yet even more relevant in others. I didn’t necessarily find it a “page-turner” but it’s short enough to quickly get through and the diversity of topical areas prevent staleness.

Ooh, I figured out why I prefer this one to Schwartz’s effort. On the final page they mention architecture – something about how we should build for a thousand years instead erecting disposable trash such as the ubiquitous eight year Wal-Mart. Of the many dozens of NOT-architecture-specific, non-fiction books I’ve recently encountered, this is the only one that even acknowledges the existence of my chosen profession; something of an unexpected shout-out to a mostly forgotten profession on life-support. Good read! ( )
  mjgrogan | Jun 14, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John de Graafprimary authorall editionscalculated
Naylor, Thomas HAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Wann, DavidAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Horsey, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simon, ScottForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
In memory of
David Ross Brower
(1912-200)
a giant of 20th Century thought and action on behalf
of the earth. He hoped that one day

We may see that progress is not the
Accelerating speed with which we multiply
And subdue the Earth, nor the growing number
Of things we possess and cling to.
It is a way along which to search for truth,
To find serenity and love and reverence for life,
To be part of an enduring harmony...


And in memory of
Donella Meadows
(1941-2001)
Scientist and sheep farmer, she pointed us all
in the direction of a more sustainable society.
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In chapters with titles like Swollen Expectations and A Rash of Bankruptcies, Affluenza uses the whimsical metaphor of a disease to tackle a very serious subject: the damage done--to our health, our families, our communities, and our environment--by the obsessive quest for material gain.… (more)

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