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Can money buy happiness? Are happier people better citizens? Who are the happiest Americans? Brooks (business & public policy, Syracuse Univ.; Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism) tackles these questions and more in this thought-provoking analysis of happiness on a national and global scale. He explores the culture, demographics, politics, and economics of happiness and reaches some seemingly counterintuitive conclusions. For instance, he delves into whether liberals or conservatives are the more contented group and whether work or leisure contributes most to happiness. And if you think happiness can't be bought, you're wrong, though the exact equation may not be what you had in mind: it's giving, not having, money that contributes most to a sense of well-being. Brooks concludes with some well-grounded advice for our national leaders on what will contribute most to our gross national happiness. Political extremism, for instance, will set us back in this pursuit. A handy appendix provides supporting data from numerous studies as well as the author's own research. This is an enjoyable read that will contribute to the overall happiness of academic and larger public library patrons.
—Carol J. Elsen