We Have Met the Enemy

We Have Met the Enemy

Self-control in An Age of Excess

Book - 2011
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A witty and wide-ranging investigation of the central problem of our time: how to save ourselves from what we want. This is journalist Akst's irreverent search for answers, delving into overeating, overspending, procrastination, anger, addiction, wayward sexual attraction and most of the other homely transgressions that bedevil us daily in a world of freedom, prosperity and technological empowerment. Akst ransacks history, literature, psychology, philosophy and economics to alarm, teach, empower and, at the very least, entertain. Using self-control as a lens rather than a cudgel, he draws a vivid picture of the many-sided problem of desire--and delivers a blueprint for how we can steer shrewdly toward the wants we most want for ourselves. At stake is not just our health but our humanity, for what could make us more fully human than the ability to set aside impulse when we choose to do so?--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
ISBN: 9781594202810
Characteristics: xiv, 303 p. ;,25 cm.


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Aug 22, 2012

I really liked this book, although it does get sort of esoteric in the middle. Still, it is full of fascinating information about the struggle to do what we'd really like to do, except something easier/more appealing/more interesting in the moment keeps getting in the way. I recommend it.

ksoles Jun 16, 2011

In "We Have Met The Enemy," Daniel Akst attempts to shine light on the struggle between temptation and self-restriction. His discussion is multi-faceted: he delves into the psychological conditions that rein in our impulses, examines evolutionary survival tactics and relates temptation to modern marketing strategies and societal pressure.

Akst presents an engaging and well-researched look at a Western drive towards excess but he falls short of producing a "must read." He sets up to equip the reader with tools to prevent and cure addictive behaviours but doesn't quite follow through, suggesting obvious tactics like seeking help from others and removing oneself from triggers like junk food and cigarettes. Also, despite the doughnut on the cover, the book is less about food than the introductory chapter implies. Disappointingly, it is more of a detailed history of failed resolutions.

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