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The Good Life and Its Discontents

The Good Life and Its Discontents

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Written by Robert J. SamuelsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Robert J. Samuelson

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: September 30, 1997
  • Price: $16.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-679-78152-3 (0-679-78152-8)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

A New York Times Business Book Bestseller

Today Americans are wealthier, healthier, and live longer than at any previous time in our history. As a society, we have never had it so good. Yet, paradoxically, many of us have never felt so bad. For, as Robert J. Samuelson observes in this visionary book, our country suffers from a national sense of entitlement—a feeling that someone, whether Big Business or Big Government, should guarantee us secure jobs, rising living standards, social harmony, and personal fulfillment.

In The Good Life and Its Discontents, Samuelson, a national columnist for Newsweek and The Washington Post, links our rising expectations with our belief in a post-Cold War vision of an American utopia. Using history, economics, and psychology, he exposes the hubris of economists and corporate managers and indicts a government that promises too much to too many constituencies. Like David Reisman's The Lonely Crowd and John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society, the result is a book that defines its time—and that is sure to shape the national debate for years to come.

"Shrewd and optimistic. . . . The Good Life and Its Discontents combines first-rate analysis with persuasive historical, political and sociological insights."—The New Republic

"A smart, balanced epitaph for an era--with a few clues for what's ahead."—Business Week

"Lucid [and] nonsectarian . . . Samuelson traces how the reasonable demand for progress has given way to the excessive demand for perfection."—The New York Times

"Last semester I used The Good Life and Its Discontents in my undergraduate course in intermediate macroeconomic theory.... I chose it because it addresses fundamental and important economic issues in a very accessible and appealing way, and, most importantly, because the basic economic analysis is so careful and strong.... I was very pleased with the contribution The Good Life made to the course. The students also made a number of favorable comments about the book on their course evaluations. It was a stimulating complement to the rest of the material.... I'm using it again in this spring."
—Michael B. McElroy, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Economics, North Carolina State University