Synopses & Reviews
It used to be pretty easy to distinguish between the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture. The bourgeois worked for corporations, wore gray, and went to church. The bohemians were artists and intellectuals. Bohemians championed the values of the liberated 1960s; the bourgeois were the enterprising yuppies of the 1980s.
But now the bohemian and the bourgeois are all mixed up, as David Brooks explains in this brilliant description of upscale culture in America. It is hard to tell an espresso-sipping professor from a cappuccino-gulping banker. Laugh and sob as you read about the information age economy's new dominant class. Marvel at their attitudes toward morality, sex, work, and lifestyle, and at how the members of this new elite have combined the values of the countercultural sixties with those of the achieving eighties. These are the people who set the tone for society today, for you. They are bourgeois bohemians: Bobos.
Are you a Bobo?
- 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?
- Does your newly renovated kitchen look like an aircraft hangar with plumbing? Did you select your new refrigerator on the grounds that mere freezing isn't cold enough?
- Would you spend a little more for socially conscious toothpaste -- the kind that doesn't actually kill germs, it just asks them to leave?
- Do you work for one of those hip, visionary software companies where everybody comes to work in hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a 400-foot wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot?
- Do you think your educational credentials are just as good as those of the shimmering couples on the New York Times weddings page?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are probably a member of today's new upper class. Even if you didn't, you'd still better pay attention, because these Bobos define our age. Their hybrid culture is the atmosphere we breathe. Their status codes govern social life, and their moral codes govern ethics and influence our politics. Bobos in Paradise is a witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age and a penetrating description of how we live now.
"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." Publishers Weekly
"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." Library Journal
"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
"[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." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"It's a sociological study of the current generation of bourgeois bohemians." Peter Boyle
"The most delightful dissection of the brainy classes since A.C. Spectorsky's The Exurbanites 40 years ago." Tom Wolfe
"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." Christopher Buckley
"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." P. J. O'Rourke
"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
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.
It used to be easy to distinguish between the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture, but now the "bos" are all mixed up and it is impossible to tell an espresso-sipping artist from a cappucino-gulping banker. Read how the "Bobos" define our age.
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.
Table of Contents
1 The Rise of the Educated Class
3 Business Life
4 Intellectual Life
6 Spiritual Life
7 Politics and Beyond