Hertz builds a wide-ranging, convincing argument that the way we live now is profoundly atomised—missing many of the casual and deeper human connections that used to be commonplace ... This book is a crucial call to arms ... If we could issue a reading list to 10 Downing Street, I’d put this book near the top.
Hertz’s perspective is broad—provocatively so. She intentionally conflates the angst of individual solitude with political alienation, social atomization, and economic marginalization ... To Hertz, loneliness is, in large part, an artifact of harsh, unrestrained capitalism—what she confusingly calls 'neoliberalism' ... Her idealism peaks in her push for people to connect across political and geographic divides. The recommendation, however well-intentioned, exposes the fault lines in her expansive definition of loneliness. Could trying to talk politics, or even the most anodyne of topics, with a die-hard Trump supporter ease the ache of a Democrat on a lonely Saturday night? It seems doubtful—a mismatch between problem and solution. Most of Hertz’s program, in any case, will have to await the return of normalcy, or whatever passes for it.
... exhaustive and detailed examples more than make the case for the loneliness crisis. And, while there are some suggested solutions along the way, concrete solutions to the problem aren’t explicitly outlined until the last chapter.
As a sociocultural study of loneliness and why so many of us experience it, the book is exceptional. If you’re looking for an upbeat, hopeful approach, you may want to skip ahead to page two hundred twenty-eight.
With plenty of anecdotes and scholarly referenced footnotes, the author meticulously picks apart our everyday world to reveal the many wellsprings of our loneliness, and she points to helpful first steps to deal with it. The trick, writes Hertz, is 'to reconnect capitalism to the pursuit of the common good and put care, compassion and cooperation at its very heart.' Of course, that is quite the undertaking; some readers may even consider it impossible, but many will find some comfort in these pages ... An alternately dispiriting and bracing dissection of loneliness and how to build community from the ground up.
... [a] thought-provoking yet scattershot account ... Hertz touches on many important issues, but explores few of them in-depth, and doesn’t fully address how cultural and geographic differences might impact perceptions of loneliness around the world. This intermittently intriguing analysis needs a sharper focus.