Reviewed by Vera (Luxury Reading)
If you have not heard of Daniel Akst, you’re likely to become a huge fan after reading We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess.
The “enemy” in We Have Met the Enemy is us and our lack of self-control in a world that is full of temptations. While our ancestors had to exercise their willpower to stay away from a few certain bad habits, our bad habit possibilities have vastly multiplied. We have access to cheap and widely available unhealthy foods, riveting TV shows that keep us glued to the couches, and prior to the economic meltdown, loads of unsecured credit that had us spending money into oblivion. And our bad habits are not just bad economically speaking, they are also deadly. As Akst puts it, “we do ourselves in … slowly and prosaically, jumping to a premature death in a sea of batter-fried shrimp, booze, and bad television, which we watch instead of exercising.”
Akst traces self-control from the Ancient Greeks, to British Victorians to Freud and so on, interspersing opinions on the issue from a variety of individuals who had something to say about the topic. However, We Have Met the Enemy is by no means a finger-pointing diatribe against our excesses. Instead, Akst strives to define the reasons behind the low-supply of self control in today’s age, and cite the social, cultural, religious and other constraints that can help us “behave”.
Akst’s brutally honest exploration of our self-control, or the lack thereof, is as disturbing as it is hilarious. And that is where his genius lies – in his ability to discuss a serious topic with the wit that will have you laughing out loud. We Have Met the Enemy is the first book in a long time that had me pulling out a highlighter in an effort to remember especially cheeky lines and bring them up in conversations later.
I have 1 hardcover copy of We Have Met the Enemy to give away!
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