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The Bonfire of the Vanities | [Tom Wolfe]

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Tom Wolfe's best-selling modern classic tells the story of Sherman McCoy, an elite Wall Street bond trader who has it all: wealth, power, prestige, a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress - until one wrong turn sends Sherman spiraling downward into a humiliating fall from grace. A car accident in the Bronx involving Sherman, his girlfriend, and two young lower-class black men sets a match to the incendiary racial and social tensions of 1980s New York City.
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Publisher's Summary

Tom Wolfe's best-selling modern classic tells the story of Sherman McCoy, an elite Wall Street bond trader who has it all: wealth, power, prestige, a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress - until one wrong turn sends Sherman spiraling downward into a humiliating fall from grace.

A car accident in the Bronx involving Sherman, his girlfriend, and two young lower-class black men sets a match to the incendiary racial and social tensions of 1980s New York City. Suddenly, Sherman finds himself embroiled in the most brutal, high-profile case of the year, as prosecutors, politicians, the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers rush in to further their own political and social agendas. With so many egos at stake, the last priority on anyone's mind is truth or justice in this bitingly hilarious American satire.

©1987 Tom Wolfe; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go." (New York Times Book Review)
"Sheer entertainment against a fabulous background....Often hilarious, and much, much more." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Erupting from the first line with noise, color, tension and immediacy....brilliant." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1295 )
5 star
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4.1 (828 )
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4.3 (824 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ana 02-09-15
    Ana 02-09-15

    11x17

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Extraordinary storytellingdrama,"
    If you could sum up The Bonfire of the Vanities in three words, what would they be?

    drama, energy, suspense


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bonfire of the Vanities?

    The descriptions of the Bronx courthouse


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    Sherman McCoy's lawyer


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was addicted....


    Any additional comments?

    The reader is outstanding. His range of accents, tone, and voice brings each character to life. The book was good, but hearing it read by such a master made it superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Chippewa Falls, WI, United States 01-31-15
    Kathy Chippewa Falls, WI, United States 01-31-15 Member Since 2013

    This is the only way to get through all the books I want to enjoy...and still I'm behind!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    29
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    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Took Effort"

    Verbose, long and drawn out, but kept at it. I know this is reviewed to be an incredible work of fiction, and while I think the title is perfect for the book, I thought the whole thing a bit tedious hoping for it to really get exciting. It did not.
    Admittedly I read it because the movie had good reviews, but half-way through the book, I checked on the movie's summary and it was not close to the book having thrown out some major characters...therefore, kept to the book.
    The performance was very good and accents for New York boroughs great, but the overall of the women was poor. All the women sounded the same: tired housewives and masculine. (Okay, the narrator was a man, but still!) Sorry, but true.
    I think that in retrospect the book is making more sense to me, but it was an effort to get through the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elle 12-14-14
    elle 12-14-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    205
    8
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    0
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    "Still Holds Up"

    Tom Wolfe doesn't create believable female characters and the narrator doesn't do believable female voices, but despite these failings, this books still holds up with its unflinching look into the mind of a "Master of the Universe" with feet of clay. Somehow, the story helps you find a way to feel some compassion for a character who is really quite despicable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia 10-20-14
    Patricia 10-20-14
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    44
    6
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    Story
    "Intense"
    What did you love best about The Bonfire of the Vanities?

    This book had many twists and many character changes as it progressed. This book show how politics play an important part in our society.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sherman and his character change throughout the story. This story shows how there is a bit of animal in all of us.


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not listened to any of Joe Barrett's performances but I am going to research this farther.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This was a book that I wanted to listen to in all one sitting. The changes in the characters personality as the story progressed kept me wondering who would lie next for their own personal gains.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorraine Russo Towaco, NJ USA 10-10-14
    Lorraine Russo Towaco, NJ USA 10-10-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    21
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Love this book"

    Tom Wolfe is great, the narrator is perfect for the story...hated to see it end

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 07-30-14
    Tim United States 07-30-14 Member Since 2011

    I don't write book reports.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    868
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    427
    423
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    109
    13
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    "Eighties Novel"

    I really like the way that Tom Wolfe wrote "The Bonfire of the Vanities." Instead of focusing on one main character throughout the extensive novel, Mr. Wolfe writes the story with many sub plots. I like it because I found it to be enjoying and not draining with the tale of one person.

    There are many characters to like and dislike. The story is fast pace and engaging. As an American classic (per say), I can relate to the story more because I was familiar with the times in the 80's, New York, Wall Street and the different social classes.

    Often times, when I read a classic, I sometime feel lost in the book because I wasn't born in their era of storytelling. The Bonfire of the Vanities is a good book for someone that were raise in the 80's because they can easily follow without referring back to an Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mdaustin Austin, TX USA 07-26-14
    mdaustin Austin, TX USA 07-26-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    12
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Maybe my favorite audiobook of all time"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely! Great story, great narration, highly entertaining!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Great intertwining of at first seemingly unrelated characters, very interesting story, great depictions of vanity and other human foibles, wonderfully entertaining.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 09-14-13
    Susan 09-14-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    66
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    0
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    "Surprisingly engaged"

    This was a pleasant surprise. Enjoyed the dismantled modern cast system. Society is so fickle.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlene 04-13-13
    Charlene 04-13-13 Member Since 2002

    Toronto, Canada. Audible enthusiast since 2001.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Truly a modern classic"

    This book was described as a modern classic and that is an apt description. It is densely packed with meaning, metaphor and issues -- perfect for studying in literature classes! None of the characters are at all likeable, which is usually a recipe for a bad book. But they are understandable, and it becomes clear through the story that abstract justice is a concept on no one's mind, while getting what one "deserves" is at the forefront of everyone's agenda. As each struggles to get what they deserve and use each incident to further their own objectives, it becomes clear that "reality" is constructed by a mash-up of disconnected people pursuing their disconnected motives simultaneously, and justice plays no part. An interesting book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth New York, NY, United States 03-25-13
    Elizabeth New York, NY, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Both timeless and a time capsule, brilliantly read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Great story about urban greed; social, financial and civic power grabs; still fresh, absurd and funny twenty-five years after publication.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    1) Peter Fallow 2) Reverend Bacon 3) Tommy Killian


    Any additional comments?

    This was a brilliant narration by Joe Barrett - he brought to life an astonishing variety of characters and accents, making this as a superbly enjoyable way of experiencing this classic, Regan-era American novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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