For centuries we've believed that work was where you learned discipline, initiative, honesty, self-reliance-in a word, character. A job was also, and t incidentally, the source of your income: if you didn't work, you didn't eat, or else you were stealing from someone. If only you worked hard, you could earn your way and maybe even make something of yourself. In recent decades, through everyday experience, these beliefs have proven spectacularly false. In this book, James Livingston explains how and why Americans still cling to work as a solution rather than a problem -why it is that both liberals and conservatives anunce that full employment is their goal when job creation is longer a feasible solution for any problem, moral or ecomic. The result is a witty, stirring denunciation of the ways we think about why we labor, exhorting us to imagine a new way of finding meaning, character, and sustenance beyond our workaday world-and showingus that we can afford to leave that world behind.
James Livingston is professor of history at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He is the author of five other books on topics ranging from the Federal Reserve System to South Park.