** America The Anxious by Ruth Whitman

Ruth Whitman, as a recently-arrived Californian (from the UK), is an interesting observer of mores on this side of the Atlantic. In America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks, she explores the constitution-enshrined pursuit of happiness that does not seem to be producing very satisfying results. She goes to expensive EST-derived seminars, lunches at Facebook, visits Mormon wives in Salt Lake City, and eavesdrop on what must be her Berkeley mother-friends in search of answers.

She has a good sense of irony (she describes Facebook as having the slight feel of a prison, where wives and young children can catch a glimpse of Daddy by dropping by at lunchtime), but she often forgets she lives in the essential Northern California bubble (no, attachment parenting is not mainstream in California as a whole, let alone the US). That makes for an often entertaining book, but not a very deep one.


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