A Splendid Isolation: Lessons on Happiness from the Kingdom of Bhutan

What does Bhutan understand about happiness that the rest of the world does not? Award-winning journalist and author Madeline Drexler recently traveled to this Himalayan nation to discover how the audacious policy known as Gross National Happiness plays out in a fast-changing society where Buddhism is deeply rooted—but where the temptations and collateral damage of materialism are rising. Her reported essay blends lyrical travelogue, cultural history, personal insights, and provocative conversations with top policymakers, activists, bloggers, writers, artists, scholars, religious leaders, students, and ordinary citizens in many walks of life. This book is sure to fascinate readers interested in travel, Buddhism, progressive politics, and especially the study and practice of happiness.

A Splendid Isolation was a Finalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

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Amazon readers write:

“Drexler’s unique reported essay is rivetingly beautiful, ranging marvelously across disciplines and human beings, and was incredibly hard to put down.”

“Her essay takes place in Bhutan, but in her quest to understand Gross National Happiness in ways I’ve never heard any Westerner do before, she’s given me ways to pose similar questions about happiness in my own life and in society.”

“This was a really fun book to read, and it had totally unexpected concepts that I hope to apply to my life.”

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Listen to an interview with Madeline Drexler about Gross National Happiness in a Developing Nation on WBUR, the National Public Radio affiliate in Boston.

Cover photograph © 2014 Madeline Drexler