John Summers

  • Positively Delusional

    Positive thinking should never be the same after Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided. But as Ehrenreich herself shows in a sketch of the movement’s history, its theorists, hucksters, and practitioners have thumbed their noses at reason ever since Mary Baker Eddy popularized New Thought with the mind-over-matter healing doctrine of Christian Science. Led by preacher Joel Osteen, motivational guru Tony Robbins, and academic psychologist Martin Seligman, among many others, the national cult of uplift abounding has lately generated subprime mortgages, megachurches, and a “pink-ribbon culture” that

  • culture July 17, 2009

    Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920 by Jackson Lears

    Rebirth of a Nation is ambitious in conception, sharp in tone, stylish in composition, erudite in argument, and unified by the force of conviction. It continues the project that Jackson Lears has been pursuing since his first book, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880–1920 (1981), then in Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America (1994) and Something for Nothing: Luck in America (2003). These books purport to uncover the origins of our times, or, as the subtitle of the new volume puts it, “the making of modern America.” Rebirth