Smile or Die

Smile or Die

Smile or Die

How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World.

A brilliant, savagely funny attack on the cult of positive thinking.

Bestselling author, Barbara Ehrenreich, conceived this book when she became ill with breast cancer. Finding herself surrounded by pink ribbons and bunny rabbits and platitudes, she balked at the way her anger and sadness were seen as unhealthy and dangerous by health professionals and other sufferers.

Smile or Die explores the tyranny of positive thinking, and offers a history of how it came to be the dominant mode of belief in the USA, and the world.

In a brilliant and savagely funny analysis of the cult of cheerfulness, Smile or Die reveals how this insidious school of through has infiltrated every part of our culture and exposes the downside of always and only seeing the bright side.

Smile or Die is Ehrenreich at the top of her myth-busting game. In this bold, incisive and often funny attack on the myriad ways that Positive Thinking has been used to obscure the truth, Ehrenreich reveals how damaging that has been to our ultimate well-being.


  • the pseudoscientific link between positive attitude and healing
  • how the relentless push for patients to maintain a positive attitude is often psychologically devastating
  • the shocking links between prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and Creflo Dollar and the mortgage crisis
  • the refusal of the business community to consider negative outcomes- like mortgage defaults- and the groundless optimism of CEOs have replaced risk analysis as the basis for company decisions.

    Rigorous, insightful and bracing as always, yet also incredibly funny, Smile or Die uncovers the dark side of the 'have a nice day' nation, summing up our need to embrace realism, from the battlefield to the bedroom.

    "Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer" - Kirkus Reviews, starred review.
    "Ehrenreich explores the insistence upon optimism as a cultural and national trait, discovering its 'symbiotic relationship with American capitalism' and how poverty, obesity, unemployment and relationship problems are being marketed as obstacles that can be overcome with the right (read: positive) mindset" - Publishers Weekly, starred review.
    "In this wide-ranging and stinging look at the pervasiveness of positive thinking, Ehrenreich warns against a 'reckless optimism' that causes individuals- and nations- not to plan for inevitable downturns and disasters" - Booklist, starred review.
    "Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinkerbell will check out, and what's more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again fro the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it" - Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
    "Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who's ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book" - Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew and What's the Matter with Kansas?
    "Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil: please read this relentlessly sensible book. It's never too late to begin thinking clearly" - Frederick Crews, author of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays.
    "Barbara Ehrenreich's skeptical common sense is just what we need to penetrate the cloying fog that passes for happiness in America" - Alan Wolfe, author of The Future of Liberalism.
    "In this hilarious and devastating critique, Barbara Ehrenreich applies some much needed negativity to the zillion-dollar business of positive thinking. This is truly a text for the times" - Katha Pollitt, author of The Mind-Body Problem: Poems
    "This is a mind-opening read" - Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things.
    "Once again, Barbara Ehrenreich has written an invaluable and timely book, offering a brilliant analysis of the causes and dimensions of our current cultural and economic crises" - Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: American's Place in World History.

    Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia, USA.

    Smile or Die
    Allen and Unwin
    Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
    ISBN: 9781847081353
    Price: $29.99

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