BookBrowse Reviews SHAM by Steve Salerno

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SHAM

How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless

by Steve Salerno

SHAM by Steve Salerno X
SHAM by Steve Salerno
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2006, 288 pages

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How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. Non Fiction

From the book jacket: Self-help: To millions of Americans it seems like a godsend. To many others it seems like a joke. But as investigative reporter Steve Salerno reveals in this groundbreaking book, it's neither—in fact it's much worse than a joke. Going deep inside the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (fittingly, the words form the acronym SHAM), Salerno offers the first serious exposé of this multibillion-dollar industry and the real damage it is doing—not just to its paying customers, but to all of American society.

Comment: SHAM has been rustling a lot of feathers, as you'd expect of a book that attacks the self-help industry! Salerno's stance is unequivocal, and at times vitriolic. Personally, I'm all for balanced debate and looking at different viewpoints, because there are very few black and white issues in this world - everything comes down to shades of grey - and that includes the self-help industry. So, I did think twice before recommending a book that effectively writes off the entire self-help arena as a SHAM.  Having said that, the belief that all our problems can be solved if we just find the right 12-step program, or the right diet, or the right self-actualization image isn't healthy either, and if Salerno is to have any hope of being heard above the din of advice he needs to be a little obstreperous - especially when one takes into account that many of the publicity avenues available to the self-help 'gurus' (such as magazines and talk-shows) are unlikely to want to give space to his views! 

Whatever you think of self-help products, I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day to read an excerpt from this controversial book!

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in July 2005, and has been updated for the October 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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