January Bookshelf: (Not So) Sweet Success

When a book has 66 pages of footnotes to document the research contained therein, you know you can look forward (or not) to a wide-ranging examination of a topic. Indeed, that’s what you get with Jim Rubens’ new book, “OverSuccess: Healing the American Obsession with Wealth, Fame, Power and Perfection.” [Greenleaf Book Group Press, $24.95] Rubens, a Hanover “angel investor” who served in the N.H. State Senate for two terms and ran unsuccessfully for Governor, takes an ambitious approach to his topic.

Starting in Chapter 1, outlining the country’s obsession with success, he moves through a myriad of societal problems — depression, eating disorders, family breakdown, personal debt, ethical collapse, violence, materialism, to name a few — that he sees as connected to that obsession. Sometimes the connection seems a tad weak, but his argument is always well-researched and interesting to read.

Rubens does offer hope with ways that individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations can satisfy the drive for recognition and personal achievement without what he calls “the toxic burdens of OverSuccess.”

It’s instructive to read the book in the midst of an economic collapse. In fact, Rubens might want to write a sequel. If wealth and misery can be linked, maybe relative poverty will cure some of society’s problems.