Self-Help Nation: The Long Overdue, Entirely Justified, Delightfully Hostile Guide to the Snake-Oil Peddlers Who Are Sapping Our Nation'

Tom Tiede, Author
Tom Tiede, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $23 (192p) ISBN 978-0-87113-777-7
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""She's a moralist, a stiff spine, a hanging judge, a smell fungus, a censor, a hall monitor and naturally... [s]he is also largely popular and wealthy. I'll get to hypocritical in a moment,"" writes Tiede of Dr. Laura Schlessinger. But the good doctor should not feel slighted; Christ himself doesn't come off much better in this mordantly funny attack on sanctimonious advice givers. Taking the view that most people are better off thinking honestly and logically about their own desires, Tiede--a nationally syndicated columnist and recipient of the Ernie Pyle award--massacres self-help books for their quick fixes and, he says, dumbed-down psychology and theology. In his view, they're unnecessary, untrustworthy and even harmful. Along with Dr. Laura and Jesus, Tiede goes after Norman Vincent Peale (""He was the one [at Calgary] wearing bells on his hat, telling everyone to be happy""), M. Scott Peck, Barbara Kessling (Talk Sexy to the One You Love), Elaine Emeth & Dr. Janet Greenhut (Care of Body, Mind and Spirit for Optimal Health) and Paul Harris (Direct Your Subconscious and Drive to Success). Tiede has a pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to life and does not suffer fools gladly. He can be deeply moving, as when he talks about his experiences with disabled servicemen in Vietnam, or starkly terrifying, as when discussing torture in Uganda. His views are not going to be accepted by everyone--he recommends smoking pot--and his rhetoric, while often hilarious, is so strong that it's sure to be ignored by those who might need it most: addicts of self-help. (Feb.)
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