The Progress Paradox

  • by Gregg Easterbrook
  • Narrated by uncredited
  • 5 hrs and 38 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook draws upon three decades of wide-ranging research and thinking to make the persuasive assertion that almost all aspects of Western life have vastly improved in the past century; and yet today, most men and women feel less happy than in previous generations. Why this is so and what we should do about it is the subject of this book.Between contemporary emphasis on grievances and the fears engendered by 9/11, today it is common to hear it said that life has started downhill, or that our parents had it better. But objectively, almost everyone in today's United States or European Union lives better than his or her parents did.
Still, studies show that the percentage of the population that is happy has not increased in fifty years, while depression and stress have become ever more prevalent. The Progress Paradox explores why ever-higher living standards don't seem to make us any happier. Detailing the emerging science of "positive psychology," which seeks to understand what causes a person's sense of well-being, Easterbrook offers an alternative to our culture of crisis and complaint. He makes a compelling case that optimism, gratitude and acts of forgiveness not only make modern life more fulfilling but are actually in our self-interest.
Seemingly insoluble problems of the past, such as crime in New York City and smog in Los Angeles, have proved more tractable than they were thought to be. Likewise, today's "impossible" problems, such as global warming and Islamic terrorism, can be tackled, too.
Like The Tipping Point, this book offers an affirming and constructive way of seeing the world anew. The Progress Paradox will change the way you think about your place in the world, and about our collective ability to make it better.


What the Critics Say

"Easterbrook...writes nothing that is not brilliant." (Chicago Tribune)
"This is an important, timely, and well-reasoned book that is sure to have people talking." (Booklist)
" a serious author with serious points to make." (The New York Times)
"Easterbrook invests the timeless questions of life's meaning with distinctly contemporary pertinence." (George Will)
"Easterbrook is perhaps the finest general science writer in the country." (Forbes)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Those who label this book as "liberal" are doing it a disservice. Easterbrook's advice is logical and pragmatic, not political. I generally lean to the right of center and I found this book to be a compelling read (listen). As for "veer(ing) off into a socialist agenda advocating class warfare against the rich" (as one reviewer wrote), I don't see it. Easterbrook's main complaint is against CEOs who manipulate the system to award themselves obscene salaries and bonuses.

Is it "liberal" to say that awarding tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to executives, while low end workers are laid off, is wrong? I don't think so. Maybe if your definition of "liberal" is "not conservative".

Some of his arguments about living wages and the like might be considered liberal views. But he balances it with a good dose of pragmatism when it comes to things like the environment.

The audio presentation is excellent, one of the best I've heard.

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- Michael Carrato

Good start , then faulty analysis, hidden politics

The Progress Paradox starts off with an interesting review of why, despite things being better, people seem unhappy. It's an interesting topic and the book raises some good points and observations.

Having built a solid foundation demonstrating how well market economies have provided a higher standard of living and discussing the unexpected angst that has resulted, the book then veers off into a socialist agenda advocating class warfare against the rich, government control of markets, and massive government programs. All of this is hidden under a false flag of "fairness" improvements to the market system. While the early material in the book is well supported with studies and facts, the veiled political views are hyped with false analogies, hysterical language, hidden assumptions, and outright ignorance of basic economic principles.

You could get the book and just throw it away after you've read the first half, but picking up a copy of P J O'Rourkes "Holidays in Hell" will provide a better read and a lot more insight into how the world really works.
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- Robert L.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-21-2003
  • Publisher: Random House Audio