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Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There Paperback – Bargain Price, March 6, 2001
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Bobos in Paradise is a brilliant, breezy, and often hilarious study of the "cultural consequences of the information age." Large and influential (especially in terms of their buying power), the Bobos have reformed society through culture rather than politics, and Brooks clearly outlines this passing of the high-class torch by analyzing nearly all aspects of life: consumption habits, business and lifestyle choices, entertainment, spirituality, politics, and education. Employing a method he calls "comic sociology," Brooks relies on keen observations, wit, and intelligence rather than statistics and hard theory to make his points. And by copping to his own Bobo status, he comes across as revealing rather than spiteful in his dead-on humor. Take his description of a typical grocery store catering to discriminating Bobos: "The visitor to Fresh Fields is confronted with a big sign that says 'Organic Items today: 130.' This is like a barometer of virtue. If you came in on a day when only 60 items were organic, you'd feel cheated. But when the number hits the three figures, you can walk through the aisles with moral confidence."
Like any self-respecting Bobo, Brooks wears his erudition lightly and comfortably (not unlike, say, an expedition-weight triple-layer Gore-Tex jacket suitable for a Mount Everest assault but more often seen in the gym). But just because he's funny doesn't mean this is not a serious book. On the contrary, it is one of the more insightful works of social commentary in recent memory. His ideas are sharp, his writing crisp, and he even offers pointed suggestions for putting the considerable Bobo political clout to work. And, unlike the classes that spawned them--the hippies and the yuppies--Brooks insists the Bobos are here to stay: "Today the culture war is over, at least in the realm of the affluent. The centuries-old conflict has been reconciled." All the more reason to pay attention. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Bobos dislike showing off, but of course all rich people do, so they are allowed to show off in discreet ways. Mercedes are out, but SUV's are in. Jewelry is out, but eco-tourism is in. Bobox 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, organic, or more planet-friendly. In fact, anything that shows one to be a friend to the planet is fair game, no matter how silly. There's even a toothpaste that encourages germs to leave the mouth.
Needless to say, it takes a huge income to be a true Bobo. Brooks almost had this reviewer feeling sorry for the poor U. of Chicago professor forced to live on a "mere" household income of $180K, barely enough to cover private schools for her kids and a nanny. The wretch suffers from what Brooks calls "status-income disequilibrium" or "SID" because her pay, while handsome, pales before her similarly educated peers in the professions and business, with whom she has to socialize at symposia.
America teems with the newly rich.Read more ›
So where did they all go? David Brooks ventures an amusing answer in Bobos in Paradise, in which he defines and describes a new social class, the 'bourgeois bohemians', or bobos. A bobo combines the solid fiscal sensibility of the village burgher with the daring lifestyle choices of the left bank. Brooks thinks bobos reconcile the great social cleavage of the 1960s between the squares and the counterculture.
Bobos in Paradise is a very funny, entertaining book, and it's highly readable. Brooks is a very clever salesman -- much more so than his brutally honest predecessor in 'comic sociology', Paul Fussell, whose 1983 book *Class* is a much more pointed analysis of the American social system. Fussell heartlessly dissects and illustrates his three major classes, i.e. upper, middle and lower, all of which he sees as roiling moshpits of status consciousness and envy. Brooks is much less brave: as a self-professed bobo, he only tweaks his upper-middle-class, book-buying, bobo audience, satirizing bobo sensibilities yet carefully avoiding any violations of serious bobo taboos. He's good at seeming to be a bad boy.
But bobos aren't upper-middle class, you protest! Doesn't Brooks himself identify them as the nation's new 'upper class'? .... Fussell, wherever he is these days, would chide Brooks for missing the ways in which bobos are in fact achingly middle class.Read more ›
Brooks' concept of Bobos (Bourgeois Bohemians) is fascinating and at times his observations sparkle, but he is utterly unconvincing when he argues that Bohemian values "rule" in America today. Clearly, Brooks is aware of the view that Bohemian values have been coopted by the corporate establishment and used as a marketing vehicle; but he makes little effort to explain why he rejects this view for one that exhalts the supposed power of people who are too easily stereotyped for eating granola and wearing Birkenstocks.
There is much in this book that struck me as wrongheaded--especially when Brooks obsesses on surface-level concerns rather than their deeper meanings, such as the repeated shots he takes at those Bobos who may prefer to buy a hand-woven blanket made in Guatemala rather than a synthetic one manufactured in America. As if this is a matter of great importance.
Despite its shortcomings, Brooks' insights make the book well worth a reading--his observations, for example, on Latte Towns, the new morality of Bobos (with its central focus on medical rather than religious injunctions), and the culture of Seattle can be both wickedly funny and insightful.
Brooks is the sort of conservative a liberal like me can enjoy. In reviewing the attacks of more strident right-wing commentators, Brooks provides a sensible corrective to the overwrought ravings of the Clinton haters and those conservatives, such as Robert Bork, who descend to self-parody when they reflect on the nightmare of "the Sixties.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think "Bobos In Paradise" is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I look forward to reading David Brook's other books and have bought "On Paradise... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nancy R. McCaskey
Wonderful timely delivery of a great book by a equally gifted writer. Kudos to all involved.Published 3 months ago by N. Woods
These were given as gifts to guys. I saw the author discuss his ideas on t.v. He is very interesting.Published 3 months ago by Walla Kaye
"Bobos" is such a cheesy word that it is no wonder it never took. I mean, who would want to refer to themselves as something that sounds this much like "bozo"? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Emily
Sadly, i just read this rather than 15 years ago when it came out. A number of observations are no longer valid , due to continual change and the fact that the Bobo baby boomers... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mojo Sr
This book is a little dated (since it was written during the Clinton years) and not incredibly deep, but it rang true as a picture of a small slice of America: the hard-working... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michael Lewyn
Nice read. In some spots too detailed to make his point, but overlooked because balanced with edgy humor. Perhaps a bit dated I'm 2015.Published 8 months ago by John T. Lavalley
What kind of person buys new furniture put through a distressing procedure to make it look old? Many of us, according to author David Brooks in his book, Bobos in Paradise. Read morePublished 8 months ago by John H. Matthews