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 hear 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 counter-cultural 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.
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.
©2000 David Brooks; (P)2000 Random House, Inc.
Brooks has a wry sense of humor, a gift of gab, and a good way with words. This is probably a better book to read than listen to, as the overworked parts could be scanned or skipped. His reading style, with constant portentous emphasis, becomes dull, and then irritating. Just as composers of music should not usually conduct the orchestra, writers who are amateur readers should let pros read their prose. (Ummm...sorry..) His reading almost kills an otherwise amusing, light read.
I found Bobos to be eye opening about upper class culture, and refreshing to listen to. Yes, I sometimes got lost in the constant sense of irony and sarcasm that Brooks carries in his voice. But it was funny! I'm normally not into social science. And while I wouldn't exactly call this "science," it did deliver a lot of information that would have been rather dry to choke down some other way. But with Brooks' style, I laughed and learned. It's like edutainment.
Mr. Brooks takes an evanescent ethos of the age (one of many, if I am right) and explains that those in its thrall are the new ruling class. He develops a straw man at tedious length. In reality, the bobos such as he describes barely exist. (Even a crude analytic estimate of how many there are and where they are would have helped the thesis.) Further, Brooks damages his rendition of the book by repeatedly pronouncing "mores" to rhyme with "pores", and mispronouncing about a dozen other names and words.
Interesting and funny. I often laughed out loud while listening, yet I came away convinced that Mr. Brooks' concept of "Bobo" might actually describe something real. The book is now 11 years old yet still pretty much describes this phenomenon.
This is one of the most dull, boring tedious books that I have ever listened to. With the exception of the 2nd hour or so, it is filled with uninteresting tangents referencing obscure careers and ideals that would have little interest for the average person. Even the average "Bobo" as defined by the author would have little interest in his ramblings. Don't waste your book credits or your time.
One of the few books I've been tempted to abandon, there are enough small insights to make it worth slogging through. Still, the author's snarkiness wears thin quickly, his "exaggerations to make a point" get tiresome and his reading tone does not aid the experience. The chapter on intellectuals is perhaps the least interesting thing I've experienced in a long while.
He also, as has been pointed out, mispronounces words often enough that it grates. As a bobo himself, he should know how to pronounce "mores". If the author is reading, it's pronounced "morays," and I hope knowing this spares you future embarrassments.
When we expect the unexpected, we usually discover that old and sacred truth - what comes around goes around. Or as they used to say in the 60's, "You are what you eat!" Bobos in Paradise is a twist on this ilk and noteable exception to the "Got ya - you're an idiot" school of social observation. But like watching whales in Baja California, far too much of the action takes place below water and out of site. None-the-less, for those looking for challenging yet glissful read in the hammock with a cool lemonade in hand (or is it visa-versa), this may be a book which you might not want to miss.
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