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

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

by David Brooks

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684853789
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 03/06/2001
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 219,969
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

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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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

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

What People are Saying About This

E. J. Dionne Jr.

Put on your REI hiking boots, climb into your Range Rover, get your mocha at Starbucks, and dive into this book to find out why you're a BoBo and why you're so happy. David Brooks is one shrewd, thoughtful, and immensely entertaining social critic. He has sharp eyes, a tough mind, and a richly ironic understanding of how we live now and why. Read, weep, ponder, laugh. (E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics)

Peter Boyle

It's a sociological study of the current generation of bourgeois bohemians.

Tom Wolfe

The most delightful dissection of the brainy classics since A.C. Spectorsky's The Exurbanites 40 years ago.

Christopher Buckley

The self-loathing yuppie is dead! Love live the BoBo! An absolute sparlker of a book, which should establish David Brooks — not that he needs establishing — as the smart, fun-to-read social critic of his generation.

P. J. O'Rourke

The new Dodge minivan is named the Kerouac. Maynard G. Krebs brokered the AOL/Time Warner deal. They're selling Amway products from Ken Kesey's Magic Bus. Yow. This is much worse than the sixties. Bobos in Paradise is cool, mean, and excellent.

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

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Bobos in Paradise 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Jess_Hutch More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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.
jpsnow on LibraryThing 8 months ago
David Brooks offers a convincing argument that the modern times are led (in thought and consumption) by the bourgeois bohemians, the result of the aristocrats and the hippies melding during the past 30 years. Their ultimate goal is self-actualization. "To calculate a person's status, you take his net worth and multiply it by his anti-materialistic attitudes." (p.50) The justification of the bourgeois is that economic growth has made for abundance, health, etc. Now, it's ok to spend large sums on tools or experiences, but not vain decor. Regarding bohemians, "Fifties intellectuals discussed No Exit. Contemporary intellectuals discuss no-load mutual funds." (p.149) In the section called "The Economy of Symbolic Exchange," he discusses cultural capital, academic capital (the right degree), political capital (affiliations), etc, all as equally useful for trade. He discusses the plight of aspiring intellectuals (professors, writers, columnists, and consultants), pointing out the difficult path and the importance of a useful, well-timed market niche (pick something a lot of shows and conferences will want you for, be either radical or moderate - advantages to each, there are still two classes of Bobo - the wealthy and the written; successful at either, bobos then go for the other).
alyce413 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A really interesting book on a shift in our economic and intellectual struture in America.
nog on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Brooks assumes that the Bobos at some point in their lives have shared counter cultural, radical, and creative ideas associated with bohemians. Is this the case, or are they merely tourists of the lifestyle? I am reminded of John Lennon's observation about "Day Trippers", the weekend bohemians of the 60s. B. would have us think that the bourgeois synthesized Bohemia into the Bobo, but the book does not provide the evidence for some such Hegelian process. Instead, he runs down a seemingly inexhaustible (and exhausting) list of their lifestyle choices, concentrating especially on their consumer habits, sometimes to humorous effect. Eventually, though, the act becomes tiresome, and he rather lamely attempts some serious analysis.This is where the book falls flat, and the thud is deafening. If the Bobo had truly incorporated bohemian values into the upper class sensibility, we would not see them purchasing SUVs, for instance. These vehicles get terrible gas mileage, which is incompatible with the Bobos' supposed deep caring for the environment. Also, these expensive vehicles pose a danger to those less fortunate motorists who can only afford a small car. Such contradictions can be found elsewhere in the opening chapters (electricity-gobbling appliances, for instance); they should be kept in mind when the reader gets to the weak arguments of Bobo morality and spirituality in the later chapters.B. claims that the Bobos are concerned with preservation of America's older neighborhoods, to save older structures and our heritage, yet the facts speak to an utter lack of concern of the Bobos when it comes to their own "needs." Witness the gentrification of the Mission District in San Francisco, which has forced the traditional Hispanic population out because of sky-high rents. There is a noticeable lack of mention of the lower classes in the book, in fact. The Bobo is depicted unintentionally as a classic elitist, with a narcissistic streak that would make the 70s "Me Decade" seem tame by comparison. Thus, the horrific reaction some readers might have when they discover that B. not only thinks the Bobos are a positive force of nature, but that he counts himself as one.If B. were approaching the subject critically, he would undoubtedly have tackled the psychology of the Bobo, and why the fascination with bohemian culture. He never tackles this very key point; the possible issues of guilt and self-esteem, for instance. Or how about the Info Age obsession with research? Is this lifestyle optimized based on careful study of all the facts? Is the incorporation of the bohemian a sign of neurosis instead? Don't the descriptions of consumption sound like classic obsessive-compulsive disorder? How does the Bobo grapple with Bobo ethical questions, such as the dilemma posed by optimizing his lifestyle choice by buying the "best" coffee from a plantation that exploits its workers, against the "lesser" coffee that would be more politically correct? The more you ponder these contradictions, the more you are apt to recognize the absurdity of buying B.'s arguments.B. later talks of the Bobo spiritual life, wherein they pick and choose freely from an ever-changing menu of religious beliefs. Again, the consumer approach to salvation. Yet the earlier chapters allow one to reach a different conclusion: that the real spiritual instinct has been supplanted by entertainment itself, in the form of food, gadgets, and popular culture that are considered superior and "hip". It is this obsessive approach to lifestyle that fills the void left by the decline of true religious commitment. Religion then becomes yet another item for research and eventual consumption.As this is a conservative's project to convince us of the likability of the Bobo over previous elite classes, he distracts the reader from his true purpose: to celebrate the death of true bohemianism, by co-opting it and robbing it of its alternative world view, which stood in opposition to that of the globa
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The chapter that follows American literary history from 720 should be required reading for the typical high school, maybe eve core class inin college before tackling Benjamin Franklin, Emerson and his crowd, on to Hemingway, then the beats....it would explain why the students are still sujected to things like the transcendentalists. Funny how Franklin is still so understandable, as we read all of those "habits" books.A great book,and Brooks just keeps on writing.
rameau on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Or what happens when the soft relativist college students described in Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind graduate and start making real money. Many reviews at the time chastised Brooks for letting the Bobos off the hook. In the last chapter, the worst of the book, he does pull back and blathers that the Bobos have potential to be "the class that led America into another golden age. (This was not borne out by subsequent events.) However, I don't think Brooks understood what he did here. He tries to pull off an "aw shucks, I was just joshing" attitude; however, in the previous chapters, just by describing Bobo culture, he stabbed these people in the heart and twisted the knife. For instance, he has a vignette of Death coming to a Montana second home that just drips with gleeful contempt for the shallow soul described. (By the way, even though Brooks accurately described the Bobos, the word did not catch on here, but it did in France. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, Brooks has summed up some of my attitudes and accoutrements.)
heidilove on LibraryThing 11 months ago
brooks claims to be looking at the bohemian bourgeoise [the first two letters of each creating the word bobo], but this is actually a clever deceit. a better and more accurate title would be How to Be A Conservative in the Post-Woodstock Era. A fascinating analysis, welll-written, and well-delivered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. Great insights about American culture. I will be recommending this book to others.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.