Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess

Overview

" This elegantly written and useful book . . . describes how, for millennia, human beings have struggled to rein in desire." -USA Today

At a time when the fallout from reckless spending and unrestrained consumption is fueling a national malaise, Daniel Akst delivers a witty and comprehensive investigation of the central problem of our time: how to save ourselves from what we want. Temptation reminds us that while more calories, sex, and intoxicants are readily available than ...

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Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess

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Overview

" This elegantly written and useful book . . . describes how, for millennia, human beings have struggled to rein in desire." -USA Today

At a time when the fallout from reckless spending and unrestrained consumption is fueling a national malaise, Daniel Akst delivers a witty and comprehensive investigation of the central problem of our time: how to save ourselves from what we want. Temptation reminds us that while more calories, sex, and intoxicants are readily available than ever before, crucial social constraints have eroded, creating a world that sorely tests the limits of human willpower. Referencing history, literature, psychology, philosophy, and economics, Akst draws a vivid picture of the many-sided problem of desire-and delivers a blueprint for how we can steer shrewdly away from a campaign of self-destruction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143120803
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,062,082
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

A native New Yorker, Daniel Akst is a well-known journalist who has worked at the LA Times and Wall Street Journal and now writes a monthly column in the Sunday New York Times. He also writes regularly for the Wall Street Journal culture pages, and has appeared in many other publications, including American Heritage, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Civilization, Technology Review, the Washington Monthly, and on both public radio and television. His first book, Wonder Boy (Scribners), chronicled the eye-popping ZZZZ Best fraud perpetrated by teenage entrepreneur Barry Minkow, and was named one of the 10 best of 1990 by Business Week. He is also the author of The Webster Chronicle published by BlueHen in October 2001.

Akst is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who spent 13 years in Los Angeles before moving to the Hudson Valley, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 A Democracy of Excess 1

2 Sickening Excess 17

3 On Having Yourself Committed 32

4 The Cost of Good Inventions 45

5 The Perils of Prosperity 55

6 Self-control and Social Change 70

7 The Greek Way 81

8 The Marshmallow Test 96

9 The Seesaw Struggle 110

10 Let My People Go 121

11 The Intimate Contest 132

12 The Mind-Body Problem 146

13 Self-control, Free Will, and Other Oxymorons 161

14 Odysseus and the Pigeons 175

15 Crimes of Passion 192

16 Addiction, Compulsion, and Choice 203

17 Tomorrow Is Another Day 212

18 Cutting Loose 227

19 Government and Self-government 239

20 Being Your Own Godfather 251

21 Carpe Diem 261

Acknowledgments 277

Notes 279

Index 293

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