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Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  2,125 Ratings  ·  263 Reviews
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. The authors examine the origins, evolution, and symptoms of the affluenza ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 9th 2002 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 19, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's begin with the end. The very end. "When your time comes and your whole life flashes before you, will it hold your interest? How much of the story will be about moments of clarity and grace, kindness and caring? Will the main character - you - appear as large and noble as life itself, or as tiny and absurd as a cartoon figure, darting frantically among mountains of stuff? It's up to you, and indeed, it's up to all of us!"

When you read those last words on page 247 of this convicting book, yo
Terry Lynn
Mar 06, 2009 Terry Lynn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is such an important topic but the writing was so bad that I just couldn't bear it. It's WAY too polemical. I'm looking for an analysis of the problem (and found it in _Born To Buy_) but these authors seem more interested in making the reader outraged. Their examples are way over the top exaggerations--usually punctuated with exclamation marks--designed more to hook the emotions than to engage the mind. It reads like a used-car sales pitch or an infomercial with an agenda rather than a seri ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Jerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
Just finished reading this after seeing it on the libraries sale shelf. The first half of the book would have earned 4 stars from me. Right on... total agreement with a lot of what is stated. Further in though, I found myself getting a bit frustrated with what I would call a left leaning agenda.. global warming, positive affirmation of Marxism, proposing environmental taxes on cars, carbon credits.... things that I think are just going to make guys like Al Gore richer. Maybe he will be able to b ...more
My favorite quote from this book is from T.S. Eliot: "We are the hollow men. We are the stuffed men" (page 72). This hollowness or emptiness of modern American life, the breaking up of families and communities, the pollution in the environment, according to the authors, is all in large part due to affluenza, "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more." (pg.2)

I love the ideas in this book and I liked how i
Dec 16, 2009 Trena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trena by: thethockmonthter
This wasn't a great book; the title was really the best thing about it. I wavered between 2 and 3 stars. Ultimately, the breadth (though not the depth) of the content just barely got it to 3 stars. I did not really enjoy reading it and it took me about three weeks to get through, even though it is neither long nor dense.

It has nothing new to say, although that may be my fault because the first edition was written in 2002 and at that time it may have been new. Now all the information is old hat a
Jan 24, 2010 Erin rated it did not like it
If I could give this book no stars, I would. It is deeply disturbing that such a tome of complete indoctrination is being passed off as a textbook in our schools. I knew the authors were leftist nuts right from the preface where they apologized for referring to Americans as Americans- hey authors: If someone is from Brazil, they are Brazilian. If someone is from Canada, they are Canadian. Only people from the USA are Americans as we are the only country called America!

The book starts off with s
Excellent points, great information, and it really inspired me to want to change.
My issues with it, however, were two-fold:
First, this book was based off a documentary. Obviously a book requires a lot more material than a documentary. In addition to it reading more like a documentary (which I don't think is a good thing), there were many points where I could kind of feel or sense the padding. Not a big deal, and it didn't make or break the read for me. I still learned a lot and consider a very
Jul 02, 2009 Tamra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who owns a house--you don't need that much space!
Recommended to Tamra by: Tricia
Excellent book. Or, at least the parts that I liked were excellent. The parts I didnt like, though, were AWFUL. In fact, it was so painful that I skipped about 100 pages, right in the middle of the book.

The book starts with Symptoms of Affluenza. I was going right along with them, nodding in agreement and shouting, "Right on!" every 10 pages. But then some of the comments were weird and frustrating to me. There was very little scholarship in this book, so there would be stats that didn't necessa
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 nic ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the premise of the book. I've been trying to lead a simpler life for a number of reasons, and this book definitely reinforces why a simpler life may be the answer to many of our current social "afflictions." I gave the book 3 stars because I liked the facts it presents, but I found the illness metaphors to be drawn-out and annoying. I think the book would be stronger if it weren't trying to compare our over-consuming society to the flu at every possible point.

My only other concern abo
Mar 27, 2009 Anna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Affluenza was not the refreshing, motivating read I had anticipated. This was a depressing, highly critical description of what for most thinking people is common knowledge. The scope of the book was narrow, and the tone's prejudice weakened an important message. Affluenza has been written over and over again (and much more elegantly and effectively, in my opinion). I recommend Tolstoy, Dickens, and history itself.
Jul 09, 2009 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. This book reads like an infomercial, and the flu metaphor is so trite, and was so overused, that I actually felt embarrassed for the authors.
May 01, 2015 Cindy rated it really liked it
Just a couple things that jumped out at me: This book was written a few years before the economic recession and yet the authors wrote it knowing it was coming, and soon. They knew that too many Americans place their hope in possessions and that was going to cause problems that we have now experienced since the publication of this book. The comparison of the American workweek and annual vacation days to other developed countries is eye-opening. Also interesting is the idea of taxing consumption i ...more
Daniel Gallagher
This was a life changing book for me. I've always been concerned about energy usage and the environment, but this book explains in great detail how consumerism is the driver for a lot of problems in Western society. The drive for more uses more energy, creates more waste, encourages isolation, and feeds a machine of industrialization that exists only for profit. Advertising dollars are spent, particularly since the advent of TV, to socialize us all into thinking more is better, newer is better, ...more
Aug 19, 2008 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, and the premise that time is more valuable than stuff...people/relationships/community are more important than material possessions...we should use our efficiencies and technological advances to enjoy more time with our family and friends (and connect with ourselves), rather than to produce more more more.

Two days after completing this book, I was driving downtown with my goddaughter (4 years old), when she pointed at a huge billboard with a Dr. Pepper can on it, exclaiming, "
Kressel Housman
Oct 03, 2011 Kressel Housman rated it really liked it
In some ways, the message of this book was exactly like all the millionaire/cheapskate books I've been reading recently: spend less and enjoy what you have. The difference is that while the aim of the cheapskate books is to get yourself out of debt so you can get rich, the aim of this book is to reduce consumption in order to save the environment. It's a noble cause, but personally, I'm more motivated to save my bank balance than the world. Perhaps in these days, it's precisely the same thing.

Jul 03, 2009 Janie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, pnw
Affluenza is a discursive smorgasbord. It has some interesting and useful descriptions and prescriptions (e.g., the 30 hour workweek as implemented by the Kellogg Company from the '30s to the '80s; tax policies that target big spenders on luxury items). But there's too much explored and explained too little.

They're a bit extreme about the causes and effects of the affluenza epidemic. It's the anti-panacea: it causes practically every ill.

I agree with a lot of the general principles around the b
Dec 19, 2012 Margie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society
In each of the past four years more Americans declared personal bankruptcy than graduated from college. Our annual production of solid waste would fill a convoy of garbage trucks stretching halfway to the moon. We have twice as many shopping centers as high schools.

Fascinating, important information, right? Unfortunately, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic doesn't go much beyond the informative. It's not wholly without analysis, but I wanted so much more. (And yes, that's meant to be ironic.)
Sep 02, 2011 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because one quote in particular caught my attention:

"We hear the same refrain all the time from people: I have no life. I get up in the morning, day care, elder care, a 40 minute commute to work. I have to work late. I get home at night, there's laundry, bills to pay, jam something into the microwave. I'm exhausted, I go to sleep, I wake up and this routine begins all over again. This is what life has become in America."

This is something that resonates deeply with myself an
I liked the book, but found it a bit disappointing. I'd heard very excellent things about it, and it didn't quite live up to par. The writing is a little lackluster -- the authors aren't particularly gifted with prose, and the rhetoric was a little much at times. More importantly, I didn't feel like I'd learned anything by the end of the book. As someone who's been thinking about these issues for a long time, the book felt more like a righteous snobfest than something that really expanded my kno ...more
Johnny Galt
A little too simplified although I support the concept of it all.

Example: If you go back to Samuel Johnsons's dictionary of the English language, to consume meant to exhaust, to pillage, to lay waste, to destroy. In fact, even in our grandparents' generation, when somebody had tuberculosis, they called it 'consumption.' So up until this century to be a consumer was not to be a good thing, it was considered a bad thing.

Correct me if I am wrong but I think consumption in the tuberculosis sense me
Nov 05, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it
This book will force you to reexamine your day to day life as an American consumer. This book takes a close look at the consequences and causes of our consumer culture and offers some alternatives to living a life controlled by "stuff". The information contained within may not be anything new to a lot of people, but when it is assembled with their somewhat humorous writing style, it really made me realize how absurd things have become. I liked this book because it didn't seem to have a political ...more
Linda Trionfo
Sep 12, 2010 Linda Trionfo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want a book that changes your entire outlook on a daily trip to the super market or mall this is it. The consumption of americans is so out of hand and gross. This book seems to cross all party lines and just give you the facts. I am a stats kind of girl and this is full of them but he is witty at the same time and really makes you think. Great for couples, Kenny and I have had many talks about how we can cut back, find more time for the family and give in less to the machine called " Kee ...more
Sep 28, 2008 Dioscita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I skimmed more than read this book because it wasn't quite what I expected nor did it offer what I was hoping for. In fact, there was a short "quiz" to determine whether the reader has "symptoms of affluenza" and the results were laughable (i.e. they accepted up to twenty-five "yes" answers for the "way to go, keep staying healthy!" category when I checked yes for just six of them). So this book isn't for me. I can think of a few people (and I'm related to them) who could stand to take a peek in ...more
Sandra Strange
This excellent book treats the values of the American consumer economy and the serious effects of increasing American demand for consumer goods in all their forms--on politics, on families, on the environment. The format, with copious graphics, including chapter and subheadings, inviting spacing, and graphs and charts that are easy to read, makes the book more accessible reading, since the topic is pretty heavy. Informative and provocative, this book will help you clarify your own values, and le ...more
Jessica Culhane
Mar 19, 2015 Jessica Culhane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Agree with Terry Lynn's review, which starts with, "This is such an important topic but the writing was so bad that I just couldn't bear it." At one point, I was astonished to read a particular factoid, and went on the good ol' internet to learn more. (I believe the "fact" was, Americans spend more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything combined.) Turns out, it's not actually true, and is just a statement that's been repeated for so long that it's now assumed to be true. Whoah ...more
Brooklyn Walkerschulte
I didn’t really like this book when I got to the end. I picked it up after hearing about a young man murdering someone, not arrested due to so-called “Affluenza”, which I found to be total bullhonky, but it definitely peaked my interest. Okay, I’ll be fair. I liked the premise of the book. The beginning was really good! But it slowly went downhill. Yeah, yeah. We always see those big happy families on television, disparaging on their wealth. But… Affluenza tries to make it seem as if EVERYONE i ...more
Ruthie Hayashi
The book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic is a text originally aired as a show on CBS in the 1990s that analyzes the behavior of the average American consumer. It treats consumerism as a painful and highly contagious illness, one they diagnose everyone to be suffering from. The effects of this disease can be seen all throughout America, as consumers cannot resist the urge to needlessly purchase, causing debt, clutter, and an addiction to shopping, ultimately leading to depression, anxiety, ...more
Elizabeth Tai
In a way, the author is preaching to the choir here when it comes to me. I'm a lover and practitioner of the minimalist lifestyle, and while I'm not a crunchy granola greenie, I am also trying to have a more zero waste lifestyle. But it can be wearying to be pounded with facts and figures again and again about how acquiring too much stuff is bad. I can't imagine how it must feel to those who are not completely onboard with his ideas! Towards the end, he eases the rhetoric a bit with personal sto ...more
Aug 06, 2015 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in the early 2000s on the recommendation of a friend who two-timed it as a college professor. He worked on a committee that picked books for the entering freshman class to read - all of them, before arriving on campus. The book was one part of an entire academic year of events: seminars, speakers etc on some aspect of the topic. The book covers a topic, one that affects almost all aspects of how we live now and the damage done to our environment, our communities, our health and ...more
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  • Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping
  • The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from The Union of Concerned Scientists
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  • The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life
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  • The Twilight of American Culture
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