This book by Peter Wood is an attempt to explore a question much on America's mind of late: why the heck are these people so pissed off all the time? Wood's thesis is that today's anger is a different species from what we've seen boefore. The "new anger" is an emotion that's all about the celebration of oneself: it's self-righteous, and often its primary purpose is it's own display. In a word, tedious. But nonetheless a topic worth checking out.
Wood investigates just about all relevant facets of our culture, driving up and down the entire length of American history. Some are expected: popular music, movies, politics, and (important for us narcissists) the blogosphere. But there are lengthy digressions into unexpected territory, most notably the sociology of self-service storage.
In short, it's great fun. Wood's style is accessible and appropriately light; it wouldn't do to get angry about the upsurge of anger in America, after all.
I'll quibble, however: if you're going to delve into movie anger, you need to have Sidney Lumet in your index, not George Lucas. Lumet's oeuvre includes 12 Angry Men and Network, both angry classics, the latter with perhaps the archetypical angry guy, Howard Beale, ranting "I'm mad as hell, … and I'm not going to take this any more!."
And, while musing on pop music, Wood does mention Elvis Costello. But inexplicably fails to quote:
And now I try to be amused.
But those really are just quibbles. Wood's book is a good read, and you'll learn interesting things along the way. And if it makes you less angry, all the better.