The Impulse Society (Hardcover)

America in the Age of Instant Gratification

By Paul Roberts

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 9781608198146, 308pp.

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

List Price: 28.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Paul Roberts' galvanizing, sweeping social critique of our Impulse Society confronts a world where business shamelessly seeks the fastest reward, regardless of the long-term social costs; where political leaders reflexively choose short-term fixes over broad, sustainable social progress; where individuals feel increasingly exploited by a marketplace obsessed with our private cravings but oblivious to our spiritual well-being or the larger needs of our families and communities. How did the pursuit of short-term self-gratification, once scorned as a sign of personal weakness, became the default principle not only for individuals but for all sectors of our society? Drawing on the latest research in economics, psychology, political philosophy, and business management, Roberts shows how a potent combination of rapidly advancing technologies, corrupted ideologies, and bottom-line business ethics has pushed us across a threshold to an unprecedented state: a virtual merging of the market and the self. And yet, even as our dilemma grows, The Impulse Society finds hopeful signs-not least, a revolt among everyday Americans against the forces of an unchecked market. Inspired by their example, Roberts outlines a way back to a world of real and lasting good.

About the Author

Paul Roberts is the author of The End of Oil and The End of Food. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 1999 and the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award in 2005. Roberts appears regularly on TV and radio. He lives in Washington State.

Praise For The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification

“A stunning piece of work—perhaps the best single book ever produced about our energy economy and its environmental implications.” —Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books, on The End of Oil

“Explores a troubling paradox: the more energy we use, the richer we become, but spiraling consumption also speeds us closer to the economic havoc that will result from the depletion of oil and gas reserves . . . [An] outspoken but even-handed account.” —The New Yorker on The End of Oil

“An indispensable book. The best analysis of the global food economy you are likely to find.” —Michael Pollan on The End of Food  "The Impulse Society will shake up our national conversation the way Christopher Lasch's 'The Culture of Narcissism' did four decades ago." - E.J. Dionne, author of Our Divided Political Heart "In a brilliant feat of analytic journalism, Roberts shows how American judgment has skewed sharply toward the short-term in everything from political outlook to  consumer choices - with devastating consequences for families, communities, and even a sense of national purpose." - Cullen Murphy, author of Are We Rome?, and Editor-at-Large Vanity Fair "Paul Roberts has written eloquently on very big topics before - but maybe never quite as eloquently, on quite as central a predicament. I guarantee this will jog your thinking, and perhaps put you on a new path." - Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home "Journeying through neuroscience, economics, war and healthcare, Paul Roberts gracefully connects the dots to reach an overwhelming and disturbing conclusion. While we believe we live in a society shaped by reasoned free choice, we actually live in its opposite: a culture hostage to individualized impulse. Yet, by turning the world on its edge, we may yet see it differently. The Impulse Society points the way to liberty in ways we're rarely allowed to imagine." - Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing "Roberts enlightens readers with holistic thinking about the interplay of economics, politics, and society. This is a rare book that is passionately written, sensibily argued, and might very well change how you behave for the better." - Parag Khanna, author of The Second World and How to Run the World