Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There

( 22 )

Overview

Do you believe that spending $15,000 on a media center is vulgar, but that spending $15,000 on a slate shower stall is a sign that you are at one with the Zenlike rhythms of nature? Do you work for one of those visionary software companies where people come to work wearing hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? If so, you might be a Bobo.
In his bestselling work of "comic sociology," David Brooks coins a new ...

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Overview

Do you believe that spending $15,000 on a media center is vulgar, but that spending $15,000 on a slate shower stall is a sign that you are at one with the Zenlike rhythms of nature? Do you work for one of those visionary software companies where people come to work wearing hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? If so, you might be a Bobo.
In his bestselling work of "comic sociology," David Brooks coins a new word, Bobo, to describe today's upper class — those who have wed the bourgeois world of capitalist enterprise to the hippie values of the bohemian counterculture. Their hybrid lifestyle is the atmosphere we breathe, and in this witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age, Brooks has defined a new generation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Janet Maslin The New York Times Delectable...a tartly amusing, all too accurate guide to the new establishment.

Chris Tucker The Dallas Morning News Thanks to Brooks, bobos will join preppies, yuppies, and angry white males in the American lexicon.

Emily Prager The Wall Street Journal Hilarious and enlightening.

Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post Perceptive and amusing. [Brooks] has identified the salient characteristics of this new elite, and he describes them with accuracy and wit.

Jacob Heilbrunn
In Bobos In Paradise, Brooks a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, examines how Americans are spending their easily earned dollars in these ebullient times.

Convinced that a new social class has been formed, Brooks provides a brilliantly funny taxonomy of its manners, mores, and hidden assumptions, ranging from its shopping habits to its business culture and intellectual life. He calls this new class "Bobos"- bourgeois bohemians.
National Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Transcendentalists vs. robber barons, beatniks vs. men in gray flannel suits, hippies vs. hawks: for more than a century, U.S. culture has been driven forward by tensions between bohemians and the bourgeoisie. Brooks, an editor at the conservative Weekly Standard and at Newsweek and an NPR commentator, argues that this longstanding paradigm has been eroded by the merging of Bohemians and Bourgeoisie into a new cultural, intellectual and financial elite: the "BoBos." Drawing on diverse examples--from an analysis of the New York Times' marriage pages, the sociological writings of Vance Packard, Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte and such films as The Graduate--he wittily defends his thesis that the information age, in which ideas are as "vital to economic success as natural resources or finance capital," has created a culture in which once-uptight Babbitts relax and enjoy the sensual and material side of life and anti-establishment types relish capitalist success; thus a meritocracy of intellectualism and money has replaced the cultural war between self-expression and self-control. While it works well on a superficial level, Brooks's analysis is problematic upon close examination. For example, his claim that Ivy League universities moved toward a meritocracy when, in the 1960s, they began accepting some students on academic rather than family standing ignores the reality that the "legacy" system is still in force. Ultimately, by focusing myopically on the discrete phenomenon of the establishment of "bobos," Brooks avoids more complicated discussions of race, class, poverty or the cultural wars on abortion, homosexuality, education and religion that still rage today. (May) Copyright © 2000 Cahners Business Information
Library Journal
It used to be the Bohemians vs. the Bourgeois. Now, says a senior editor of The Weekly Standard, there are "BoBos" — a confusing blend of both. Copyright © 2000 Cahners Business Information
Janet Maslin
[A] delectable new book of social criticism.... . . a tartly amusing, all too accurate guide to the new establishment and its self-serving ways. . . . The serious underpinnings of this book concern the compromises at the heart of Bobo culture.The New York Times
Anderson
What makes the book work, aside from its intelligence and nearly pitch-perfect humor, is the fact that Brooks confesses to being a Bobo himself . . . A mixture of heartfelt fondness and dead-on ridicule, animated by an energetic, glass-half-full ambivalence. . . . Funny and smart. The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684853789
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 3/6/2001
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 186,998
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Brooks

David Brooks writes a biweekly Op-Ed column for The New York Times and appears regularly on PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and NPR's All Things Considered. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

This book started with a series of observations. After four and a half years abroad, I returned to the United States with fresh eyes and was confronted by a series of peculiar juxtapositions. WASPy upscale suburbs were suddenly dotted with arty coffeehouses where people drank little European coffees and listened to alternative music. Meanwhile, the bohemian downtown neighborhoods were packed with multimillion-dollar lofts and those upscale gardening stores where you can buy a faux-authentic trowel for $35.99. Suddenly massive corporations like Microsoft and the Gap were on the scene, citing Gandhi and Jack Kerouac in their advertisements. And the status rules seemed to be turned upside down. Hip lawyers were wearing those teeny tiny steel-framed glasses because now it was apparently more prestigious to look like Franz Kafka than Paul Newman.

The thing that struck me as oddest was the way the old categories no longer made sense. Throughout the twentieth century it's been pretty easy to distinguish between the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture. The bourgeoisie were the square, practical ones. They defended tradition and middle-class morality. They worked for corporations, lived in suburbs, and went to church. Meanwhile, the bohemians were the free spirits who flouted convention. They were the artists and the intellectuals — the hippies and the Beats. In the old schema the bohemians championed the values of the radical 1960s and the bourgeois were the enterprising yuppies of the 1980s.

But I returned to an America in which the bohemian and the bourgeois were all mixed up. It was now impossible to tell an espresso-sipping artist from a cappuccino-gulping banker. And this wasn't just a matter of fashion accessories. I found that if you investigated people's attitudes toward sex, morality, leisure time, and work, it was getting harder and harder to separate the antiestablishment renegade from the pro-establishment company man. Most people, at least among the college-educated set, seemed to have rebel attitudes and social-climbing attitudes all scrambled together. Defying expectations and maybe logic, people seemed to have combined the countercultural sixties and the achieving eighties into one social ethos.

After a lot of further reporting and reading, it became clear that what I was observing is a cultural consequence of the information age. In this era ideas and knowledge are at least as vital to economic success as natural resources and finance capital. The intangible world of information merges with the material world of money, and new phrases that combine the two, such as "intellectual capital" and "the culture industry," come into vogue. So the people who thrive in this period are the ones who can turn ideas and emotions into products. These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemians. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos.

These Bobos define our age. They are the new establishment. Their hybrid culture is the atmosphere we all breathe. Their status codes now govern social life. Their moral codes give structure to our personal lives. When I use the word establishment, it sounds sinister and elitist. Let me say first, I'm a member of this class, as, I suspect, are most readers of this book. We're not so bad. All societies have elites, and our educated elite is a lot more enlightened than some of the older elites, which were based on blood or wealth or military valor. Wherever we educated elites settle, we make life more interesting, diverse, and edifying.

This book is a description of the ideology, manners, and morals of this elite. I start with the superficial things and work my way to the more profound. After a chapter tracing the origins of the affluent educated class, I describe its shopping habits, its business culture, its intellectual, social, and spiritual life. Finally, I try to figure out where the Bobo elite is headed. Where will we turn our attention next? Throughout the book I often go back to the world and ideas of the mid-1950s. That's because the fifties were the final decade of the industrial age, and the contrast between the upscale culture of that time and the upscale culture of today is stark and illuminating. Furthermore, I found that many of the books that really helped me understand the current educated class were written between 1955 and 1965, when the explosion in college enrollments, so crucial to many of these trends, was just beginning. Books like The Organization Man, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Affluent Society, The Status Seekers, and The Protestant Establishment were the first expressions of the new educated class ethos, and while the fever and froth of the 1960s have largely burned away, the ideas of these 1950s intellectuals continue to resonate.

Finally, a word about the tone of this book. There aren't a lot of statistics in these pages. There's not much theory. Max Weber has nothing to worry about from me. I just went out and tried to describe how people are living, using a method that might best be described as comic sociology. The idea is to get at the essence of cultural patterns, getting the flavor of the times without trying to pin it down with meticulous exactitude. Often I make fun of the social manners of my class (I sometimes think I've made a whole career out of self-loathing), but on balance I emerge as a defender of the Bobo culture. In any case, this new establishment is going to be setting the tone for a long time to come, so we might as well understand it and deal with it.

Copyright © 2000 by David Brooks

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

1 • The Rise of the Educated Class

2 • Consumption

3 • Business Life

4 • Intellectual Life

5 • Pleasure

6 • Spiritual Life

7 • Politics and Beyond

Acknowledgments

Index

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Introduction

Introduction

This book started with a series of observations. After four and a half years abroad, I returned to the United States with fresh eyes and was confronted by a series of peculiar juxtapositions. WASPy upscale suburbs were suddenly dotted with arty coffeehouses where people drank little European coffees and listened to alternative music. Meanwhile, the bohemian downtown neighborhoods were packed with multimillion-dollar lofts and those upscale gardening stores where you can buy a faux-authentic trowel for $35.99. Suddenly massive corporations like Microsoft and the Gap were on the scene, citing Gandhi and Jack Kerouac in their advertisements. And the status rules seemed to be turned upside down. Hip lawyers were wearing those teeny tiny steel-framed glasses because now it was apparently more prestigious to look like Franz Kafka than Paul Newman.

The thing that struck me as oddest was the way the old categories no longer made sense. Throughout the twentieth century it's been pretty easy to distinguish between the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture. The bourgeoisie were the square, practical ones. They defended tradition and middle-class morality. They worked for corporations, lived in suburbs, and went to church. Meanwhile, the bohemians were the free spirits who flouted convention. They were the artists and the intellectuals %151; the hippies and the Beats. In the old schema the bohemians championed the values of the radical 1960s and the bourgeois were the enterprising yuppies of the 1980s.

But I returned to an America in which the bohemian and the bourgeois were all mixed up. It was now impossible to tell an espresso-sipping artist from a cappuccino-gulping banker. And this wasn't just a matter of fashion accessories. I found that if you investigated people's attitudes toward sex, morality, leisure time, and work, it was getting harder and harder to separate the antiestablishment renegade from the pro-establishment company man. Most people, at least among the college-educated set, seemed to have rebel attitudes and social-climbing attitudes all scrambled together. Defying expectations and maybe logic, people seemed to have combined the countercultural sixties and the achieving eighties into one social ethos.

After a lot of further reporting and reading, it became clear that what I was observing is a cultural consequence of the information age. In this era ideas and knowledge are at least as vital to economic success as natural resources and finance capital. The intangible world of information merges with the material world of money, and new phrases that combine the two, such as "intellectual capital" and "the culture industry," come into vogue. So the people who thrive in this period are the ones who can turn ideas and emotions into products. These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemians. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos.

These Bobos define our age. They are the new establishment. Their hybrid culture is the atmosphere we all breathe. Their status codes now govern social life. Their moral codes give structure to our personal lives. When I use the word establishment, it sounds sinister and elitist. Let me say first, I'm a member of this class, as, I suspect, are most readers of this book. We're not so bad. All societies have elites, and our educated elite is a lot more enlightened than some of the older elites, which were based on blood or wealth or military valor. Wherever we educated elites settle, we make life more interesting, diverse, and edifying.

This book is a description of the ideology, manners, and morals of this elite. I start with the superficial things and work my way to the more profound. After a chapter tracing the origins of the affluent educated class, I describe its shopping habits, its business culture, its intellectual, social, and spiritual life. Finally, I try to figure out where the Bobo elite is headed. Where will we turn our attention next? Throughout the book I often go back to the world and ideas of the mid-1950s. That's because the fifties were the final decade of the industrial age, and the contrast between the upscale culture of that time and the upscale culture of today is stark and illuminating. Furthermore, I found that many of the books that really helped me understand the current educated class were written between 1955 and 1965, when the explosion in college enrollments, so crucial to many of these trends, was just beginning. Books like The Organization Man, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Affluent Society, The Status Seekers, and The Protestant Establishment were the first expressions of the new educated class ethos, and while the fever and froth of the 1960s have largely burned away, the ideas of these 1950s intellectuals continue to resonate.

Finally, a word about the tone of this book. There aren't a lot of statistics in these pages. There's not much theory. Max Weber has nothing to worry about from me. I just went out and tried to describe how people are living, using a method that might best be described as comic sociology. The idea is to get at the essence of cultural patterns, getting the flavor of the times without trying to pin it down with meticulous exactitude. Often I make fun of the social manners of my class (I sometimes think I've made a whole career out of self-loathing), but on balance I emerge as a defender of the Bobo culture. In any case, this new establishment is going to be setting the tone for a long time to come, so we might as well understand it and deal with it.

Copyright © 2000 by David Brooks

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 3, 2008

    Bobos In Paradise: A New and Funny Commentary

    Bobos in Paradise is an amusing commentary on the new, younger upper class. This book is even more funny if you live in a liberal city or area where these mini essays are proven true. All of Brooks minor inspections on these people are accurate and quirky. I live in Santa Monica, CA and I live side-by-side with what I used to call yuppies but now I see them more as Bobos. These parents of my friends drive the newest hybrid vehicle, go to exotic places like Bali and Croatia for "spiritual enlightening." Brooks does not neglect any aspect of the "new upper class." He writes about how they are different from the older, more traditional affluent people. He explains how they run their businesses in a new way and what they consider appropriate to do during free time. This book gives a true insight on bourgeois bohemians.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2007

    Not Quite Paradise

    One never knows what to make of David Brooks - serious thinker or comedian/satirist? Something in between? An amalgamation? Then why not amalgamate bohemians and bourgeous into 'BoBos' and come up with a tongue-in-cheek socio-comic analysis of them? That's what this book really is, and whether it is ultimately convincing or not, it is very funny and enjoyable to read. Ironically (tellingly?), the most convincing chapter (on spiritual life) has nary a single wisecrack.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2004

    Now I Know Why I Don't Like So-Called Bobo's

    The Suburu driving, Starbuck sipping, uber liberals come alive in this book and now I know why I sit and laugh at the Bobo's as I slurp my Frap at the local Starbucks... uh-oh... I guess I'm a fringe Bobo myself... excellent read... should be mandatory for any Sociology 101 class.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2001

    Holding Up A Mirror to our BoBo-ness...

    This book is worth the sit...I am a President of Sales & Marketing (a corporate Bobo)and could only smile at the observations being made. Brooks' insight and acute perceptions are funny...I laughed aloud on the part about consumption and the appliances we now use to stock our kitchens. A supreme intellectual blend of the last five decades without boring the hell out you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2001

    Say what you like about Bobos . . .

    Last year I wondered in my review for the hardbound version of 'Bobos in Paradise' whether the term 'Bobo' would catch on, like 'Yuppie' or 'Highbrow.' Gloriosky, it has: last week (St. Patrick's Day 2001) I read a newspaper article that mentioned 'bobos, yuppies and the traditional upper-middle class.' Apparently whoever wrote that piece had sorted out the border-rich by age: bobos: 25-35; yuppies: 35-55 (roughly following accepted sociological age norms); trad. upper-middle class (a/k/a 'bourgeoise'): 55 and up (one can join the AARP at 55). I write this because author David Brooks seems to treat Bobos as a new phenomenon but he doesn't specifically give age thresholds for Bobodom. 'Bobos in Paradise' is a work of amusing pop sociology, not a work of serious sociology housebroken for a mass audience like, say, 'Bowling Alone.' But Brooks has set himself out quite a row to hoe: he has to identify and type a stereotype in the making, establish it in our minds, then satirize and mock it without inciting envy on our part. It is not too surprising that he only partially succeeds. When he is good, he is very, very witty, but when he isn't witty he is boring. 'Bobo' is Brooks' acronym for a BOUrgeois BOhemian, a synthesis of 1980s Reaganism and 1960s Woodstockery, the folks he says are running the country today. Bobos are new money--the meritocracy of smart folk who have become rich as fast-track professionals, clever enterpreneurs, start-up capitalists, breakthrough designers, or visionaries like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Some Bobos are capitalistic hippies and some are mellowed-out business people; Bobo is their common meeting ground. Owing to their polarized cultural/economic heritage, Bobos are mixed metaphors, oxymoronic people. Drawing art from life, Brooks claims that Bobos love oxymoronic concepts and socioeconomic directives like 'sustainable develop-ment,' 'cooperative individualism,' 'planned synergy' and 'liberation management.' (But not, thank the Lord, 'compassionate conservatism.') Reconciliation is high on the Bobo list of virtues; top-down managerial authority styles are often frowned on as counterproductive and alienating. Americans love to hear and read about social class, and lacking castes as in India or inherited class/rank as in the U.K., we look to consumption patterns to rank us. (Just think of the Lacoste/Izod shirt alligator.) Bobos also know their Veblen and they dislike showing off in glitzy displays of conspicuous consumption. But since they have to show off somehow, Cadillacs and Mercedes are out, outsized SUV's are in. Jewelry is out, eco-tourism is in. Bobos buy the same things the rest of us do (bread, chicken, coffee) but pay from 3 to 10 times the mass-market price in search of something better, even if they have to justify it by calling it organic, free-range, or just more planet-friendly. In a pinch, I suppose, a really adept Bobo can pay too much for a nationally advertised brand from a ma-and-pa grocery store under the pretext of supporting local business and shunning that nasty plebeian Wal-Mart. Major portions of 'Bobos in Paradise' are a laugh-aloud hoot. Brooks' satire is delicious. Bobos install AGA ranges in their kitchens that could boil water for macaroni and cheese 'in seven seconds' if necessary. Although America teems with the newly rich, Bobos are most easily spotted in 'Latte Towns' like Madison, Wisconsin or Northampton, Massachusetts. Ideally, such venues have 'a Swedish-style government, German-style pedestrian malls, Victorian houses, Native American crafts, Italian coffee, Berkeley human rights groups, and Beverly Hills income levels.' That's where you'll see the businessman wearing hiking boots patiently explaining 401(k) plans to the aging hippie who's making a killing selling bicyles, or software, or sandwiches. The funny satiric tone drops down into mere good-hearted reportage when Brooks talks about American intellectual life

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    Entertaining, but fantasy or fact?

    'Bobos in Paradise' starts out at an exciting pace that would seem to draw all readers to the appeal of Brooks' portrayal of the new ascendant ruling class. BoBos, formed by a combination of good schooling, high salaries, and beliefs without conviction, have supplanted the traditional stuffy image of the wealthy and have even taken over their neighborhoods with their muddy Rovers. Brooks' analysis of this new class is an entertaining and easy read but leaves the reader thinking, 'Is this guy for real?' BoBos are experts in everything but are actually mere dilettantes without strong beliefs or values -- except for amassing sums of wealth. The emergent class, sadly, is thus composed of typical Americans who just happened to excel in school and have more money to finance more expensive lifestyles. For example, according to Brooks, an academic in his right mind would form (or has formed) his image and messages in a way to garner the most notoriety and cable news slots. Of course, the academic (he gives an example of a family with 180K net income)is still dwarfed by the mega-wealthy with whom he rubs elbos who live on Chicago's gold coast while the professor goes back grudgingly to her 'diversified neighborhood'. The academic would have been an international financier if she, I paraphrase, 'could work with numbers'. BoBos in Paradise can be taken two ways, depending on your slant: (1) Brooks might be right on the money in describing a new wealthy class, which would speak volumes with regard to American society; or (2) Brooks has missed some fundamental redeeming quality of BoBos that would have described the emergent class in a better light.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2013

    "Bobos in Paradise" is an amazingly true depiction of

    "Bobos in Paradise" is an amazingly true depiction of the new upper class, the Bobos, which is a combination of the traditional and archaic values of the old elite bourgeois and the new, quirky, and alternatively natural bohemians. The books describes both of the very different classes' origins and how they came to their morals, and then describes their struggle with each other, their final merger, and the ideals and virtues of the new elite class that formed of the merger. I gave this book a 5 star rating because I enjoyed the vocabulary and the humor that Brooks intertwined into his explanation of this unique class. This book is an extremely easy read, for those who can keep up with the humor and witty backhanded comments Brooks dishes out so readily. The humor Brooks throws out in his explanations creates a page turner that you do not want to put down because every sentence is filled with tantalizing explanations that make this sociology topic very comedic and enjoyable. If you enjoy making fun and laughing as you read and reread lines over and over again because you cannot believe the author said it, then this is the book for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2006

    IT WAS LONG AND BORING

    Bobos in Paradise was long and boring, and what kind of author is David that the book is not about a continous story that finishes to the last page. Yes, some parts of these essays were interesting, but a bunch of facts that were useless, though David did use them well to make his point. If you are not in your twenties or do not like read essays, then a word of advice... DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. If it is up to me, I would not chosen this book, I only read this book because it is a requirement in A.P. English.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2001

    Humorous Satire of the Educated Elite's Aspirations

    You get two books for the price of one here. The overall book explains how the social elite was transformed from old family, old money lineage to a mass elite based on education and social values. David Brooks isn't sure he likes the new elite, and lampoons them as savagely as Swift did the English aristocracy. Whether or not you agree with his criticisms, the material is often very funny and could serve as a comic's monologue. His point is a subtle one that many will mistake. He is describing the arrival of an educational elite as the reigning class. Those who are older will get the Bohemian part of Bobo -- they've all seen pictures of the Village in the 50s or read On the Road. It's the other 'bo' that will confuse some people about this book. It stands for Bourgeois. To Brooks, Bourgeois is concerned with all the classic middle class values -- income, savings, uprightness, proper appearance and behavior in public, and hard work. Elites have always wanted to be set apart from those values, even though they might have to espouse them in public. So it's interesting that this new elite is connected to these values. His thesis is actually pretty good. In these politically correct times, educated people have been conditioned since that first preschool class to look down on traditional patterns of the rich and powerful. When they, in turn, become rich and powerful, they want to have a little fun with it, but have to put on a social mask to make that fun acceptable. A variety of things work in this context: being environmentally sound; politically correct; and not having any connection to a status symbol of the old elites. Naturally, it's a cynical view that all of this is posturing. I'm sure that most of what people do is actually based on their own firm values about having a healthier, more open, and environmentally safer world. One of the funniest parts of the book for me was how status and money play off against one another. It's okay to make a lot of money, but you have to do it in a noncommercial way to be esteemed. A writer can have a best seller about ecology and have high status, while a script writer for a James Bond movie might make 100 times the money and have very little status. Despite enjoying the humor, I'm not offended by that result. The connection from where we were in the 1950s and earlier is much too long, and isn't really very necessary. The fundamental contradictions of the current lifestyle of Bobos has to be funny to almost everyone, including the Bobos. The book could have done a lot more to talk about how the fusion of the two sets of ideals could be made better for all concerned. Hearing about the meetings of the leather-clad people to do B & D soon becomes tiresome. Surely all of this energy can be directed into something more wholesome! Perhaps the funniest story in the book was about the woman who builds her dream house in Montana, and the Grim Reaper calls. I won't spoil it for you, but be sure to read that section near the end. Enjoy . . . even if the humor is at your own expense! Learning to laugh at ourselves is a great lesson. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    Gets Old Fast ...

    This book has its moments but for the most part is just tiresome, pedantic ribble-rabble. The material would make a great New Yorker article (and maybe already has) but is a real stretch to turn into a book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2001

    More than interesting, less than a hit

    Like the little girl with the golden curl, 'Bobos in Paradise' can be very, very good but when it is bad it is . . . well, not horrid, but somewhat beside the point. The author makes a pretty good case that a new socionomic caste has emerged in America not to be confused with Yuppies or the traditional upper-middle elite. He calls them 'Bobos', an acronym for BOurgeois BOhemian. Think of the head of a software company worth millions who rides a bike to work and espouses casual Fridays (on the west coast, perhaps casual everyday) and you'll begin to understand that there is no longer much of a split between the enterpreneurs of the 1980s and the mellowed-out hippies of the 1960s. Bobos are distinctive for many reasons. For example, they have narrowly prescribed ways of showing off. Never a Cadillac, not even a Mercedes. But a huge imported SUV is okay. An industrial-strength range in the kitchen is nice, even if you never use one. Going to Vegas is tacky, but spending an equivalent amount on a new shower stall is simply showing concern for one's own space. To show how our culture got where it is, Brooks has to show where we've been, and he spends a great deal of time (too much, in my opinion) talking about the intellectuals of the 1950s). He's quite sincere about this, but it is of limited utility in this book, and more to the point it isn't funny. And the whole point of a satire is to be funny, isn't it? So I couldn't go the full five stars. But be on the lookout--you'll start seeing references to Bobos in print media if you haven't already.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2001

    Insightful, but not necessarily academic

    Upon completion of Bobos, one thing is certain. You will never view the world, or the recent history of US culture, in the same manner. Those tv ads for mundane things like cookies and stockbrokers that are accompanied by riffs of aging boomer rockers will disgust you in a way that you've never been disgusted before. Brooks succinctly points out the blatant materialism of the baby boomers, yet overlooks that it really is just that. While grappling for deeper meaning by tying a bohemian culture of liberal open-mindedness, he neglects to discuss that this rampant spending on overpriced items is merely the avarice and excess of the Eighties cloaked in a search for spirituality, concern for the common person, etc. One gets the feeling that he actually believes that the Bobos have these conscious views, when they are merely showing their goods as ostentatiously as previous generations of wealthy individuals. It is unfortunate that this search for deeper meaning continues throughout the book, painting a slightly skewed picture of the American landscape. There are many points in the book during which you will be nodding your head in agreement with Brooks; however, there are times when you will want to throw down the book and say 'this is untrue!' Such inconsistencies are what prevent this book from being outstanding. The ponderous stories of wealthy habits have a way of leaning too far in the direction of opinion only and not fact. Nonetheless, it is an interesting read that will impact your outlook on the aging yuppies and their homogenization of all things creative and artful into a contradictory, mass-production of so-called quality and uniqueness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    I found out who I am

    I have never read such a fantastic book. Despite the situations of many countries differ, I found myself in the book. The book awakened me a new self identitiy.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2000

    Strange Trip

    Brooks' book is a realization, albeit somewhat more cerebral, of Hunter S. Thompson's predictions in 'Fear and Loathing' and other writings with respect to the Boomer/Bobo generation. The peace generation is finally at peace with itself. 'Bobos' is a deft, witty window into the contemporary American upper class mores and values as we head into the next century. The only question is how far those values will take us into the new millenium.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2000

    An Interesting Essay in Comic Sociology.

    This book explains the contradictions of the new 'upper class', which Brooks calls Bobos, short for bourgeois bohemians, and how they have combined the ethos of the eighties with the idealism of the sixties. The author displays a great sense of humor when he describes today's executive as having gone from SDS to CEO and from LSD to IPO. A neoconservative, Brooks celebrates this transformation and cites Cesar Grana's 1964 work, Bohemians versus Bourgeois, which described the intellectuals' contempt of bourgeois culture in early 19th Century France. You may also recall that Thorstein Veblen in his book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), used the satirical concept of conspicuous consumption to explain why people acquire goods for their status rather than for their utility. Since then, other writers have tried to do the same. However, Brooks, who is obviously one of them, is ambivalent about the Bobos' behavior and it is left to the reader to decide whether the Bobos are enlightened revolutionaries or revolutionaries who have sold out. It is ironic that having praised the virtues of Bobos' lifestyles, at the end Brooks seems to be afraid that 'we are threatened with a new age of complacency'. Are the Bobos exhausted already or are they shallow yuppies? Nevertheless, the book is indeed comic sociology worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2000

    A new name for an old problem

    This book is an excellent read for the younger generation who want to know what happened to all the idealists from their parent's generation.It should come as no surprise to we few remaining hippies from the 60's that our enemy is still among us. We used to call them 'Sell-outs.' David Brooks has proven, once again, that a break to live (not vacation) in Europe brings reawakened senses and clear eyes with which to view the problems of the greatest nation on Earth.This is also an excellent read for the rest of the Baby Boomers as it may serve as a wake-up call and put us back on the path to working at solving some of these problems not just working for a living.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2000

    Bons Snobs?

    Having heard David Brooks twice on Public Radio in one week, I was warming up to the idea of purchasing and publically reviewing the book. Now after reading the reviews I'm freezing up: my audience is interested in the dangers of religion on society and this author only addresses it in one word: 'flexidoxy'.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2010

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