Skip to main content

Is the American Dream Killing You?

How "The Market" Rules Our Lives

Paul Stiles


List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Have you ever questioned the hyperactivity, the stress, and the competition of your daily life? Are you constantly fighting the pressures that surround you: the time demands, the way people relate to one another, the working hours, the long commute?Have you ever wondered if you should be living a different life -- but feel powerless to escape "the way things are"?

In this groundbreaking work, Paul Stiles puts forth a simple idea with tremendous repercussions. Drawing on a decade of research and incorporating numerous photographs and illustrations, he shows that what we commonly refer to as "the market" is more than just an economic means of distribution. For the first time, we see the "free market" not as an unlimited good but as a Jekyll-and-Hyde creature that creates material prosperity at a heavy price. Here, in the unbridled rule of the market over modern life, lies the source of so many of our current ills: the spread of sprawl, widespread environmental damage, the corruption of corporate life, and the polarization of politics.

Stiles illustrates how the market constitutes a belief system unto itself, one that, far from being synonymous with America, is actually innately opposed to the traditional foundations of American life. Thus our national creed is no longer "equality" or "opportunity" but an obsession with market forces, market principles, market values -- a veritable "marketocracy." The market is so pervasive in our thinking that one can even divide politics, as Stiles neatly demonstrates, into market liberals and market conservatives.

Stiles shows how this virulent "hypermarket" explains such diverse phenomena as the growth of mental health problems and obesity, the mass migration of women into the workforce and the subsequent breakdown of the nuclear family, the vulgarization of our culture, and the decline of morality and the rise of the winner-take-all society. Here at last is a single, coherent explanation for the world we live in every day.

HarperCollins Publishers, 9780060593780, 305pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2005