The Good Life and Its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of Entitlement

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jan 5, 2011 - History - 352 pages
1 Review
A New York Times Business Book Bestseller

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

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.

"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

From the Trade Paperback edition.

What people are saying - Write a review

The good life and its discontents: the American dream in the age of entitlement, 1945-1995

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Columnist and economics commentator Samuelson (The Numbskull Factor, Times, 1993) asks why "a society that satisfies us most of the time has also convinced many of us that it's rolling inexorably ... Read full review


Preface to the Vintage Edition
IThe Entitlement Society
1The Postwar Paradox
2Historys Chasm
3The Cult of Affluence
4Prosperitys Broken Promise
IIThe New Capitalism
9Colliding Ideals
10Borrow and Spend
11Elusive Equality
12Suicidal Government
After Entitlement
13Historys Cycles
14Responsibility Not Entitlement
15Crisis or Consensus?

5The Apostles of Control
6Cheery Economics
7The Myth of Management
8The Real Economy
IIIThe Politics of Overpromise
Afterword to the Vintage Edition
Public OpinionPrivate Optimism Public Pessimism
Income and Living Standards

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

In addition to "Newsweek and the "Washington Post, Robert J. Samuelson's columns are syndicated to about 40 U.S. and 20 foreign papers by "The Washington Post Writers Group. He is the author of "The Good Life and Its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of Entitlement, 1945-1995. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife, Judy Herr, and their three children, Ruth, Michael and John.

Bibliographic information