Promise Land: My Jour­ney through Amer­i­ca’s Self-Help Culture

  • From the Publisher
May 22, 2014

As Jes­si­ca Lamb-Shapiro points out in this pow­er­ful blend of mem­oir, jour­nal­ism, and social com­men­tary, every­one is affect­ed by self-help, an indus­try that gen­er­ates a bil­lion dol­lars a year by trad­ing in the many apho­risms that we encounter every day in the media, on cof­fee mugs and t‑shirts, and in con­ver­sa­tion with fam­i­ly and friends. Despite its stig­ma as a 1960s and 70s phe­nom­e­non, self-help has fas­ci­nat­ed read­ers for thou­sands of years, dat­ing back to Ancient Egypt.

Raised by a child psy­chol­o­gist who is the author of numer­ous self-help books, Lamb-Shapiro found her­self at once repelled and fas­ci­nat­ed by the indus­try to which her father had con­tributed. Did all of these books, tapes, and week­end sem­i­nars real­ly help any­one? In the name of research, she attempt­ed to cure her­self of pho­bias, fol­lowed The Rules” to meet and date men, walked on hot coals, and attend­ed a self-help sem­i­nar for writ­ers of self-help books. 

Promise Land is irrev­er­ent, fas­ci­nat­ing, fun­ny, and deeply per­son­al — a work as quirky and sur­pris­ing as the world it bril­liant­ly profiles.

Read Jes­si­ca Lamb-Shapiro’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

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