September 05, 2000

David Brooks: Bobos In Paradise

this would be a much better book if it were not for the fact that a bobo is writing it. you should expect a marvelous thesis which is certainly coherent and compelling, but if you expect a serious tone throughout, you are headed for disappointment.

i didn't expect to be laughing page after page as brooks discovers a new set of slams against yuppies. in fact, if you replace 'bobos' with 'yuppies', you'd get the kind of 'so what' feeling ahead of time that this book often merits. there were certain passages, especially in the description of the career path of a fictitious intellectual, that i thought that i was reading a less acerbic p.j. o'rourke. that is certainly entertaining enough, but what is never really addressed in this work are the consequences for an america whose elites are all great compromisers.

as a description of this group, the book excels, but the context in world-historical form is what i was looking for. instead of providing insight to what counterbalances the excess of bobo equivocation 'bobos in paradise' becomes something of a high falutin' mockumentary, complete with references to bagehot, toqueville et al.

very much like bobo ethics, this book impresses you with its self-importance and gently nudges you around by being intellectually convincing. yet for all its perception, it lacks even the spirit of a dennis miller rant.

i am in agreement with the theory that the 60s and 80s have been moderated into that clintonesque goo of the bobocracy. and i agree that now is the right time for that moderation to prevail, but i have no way to be certain that such values will matter to gen-x as they eventually replace the suv crowd. and so 'bobos in paradise' remains but a clever snapshot in time.

i was hoping for a bit more.

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