From Publishers Weekly
For readers who are feeling glum about America and its place in the world, or those who despairingly look at our culture's cookie cutter, strip mall consumerism and flash-bang glitter, Brooks (Bobos in Paradise) offers a balm with his latest pseudo-sociological treatise. More a way to look at what he sees as America's problems (e.g., our thirst for enormous gas guzzlers and super-sized soft drinks) with optimism than a series of suggestions of how to fix them, this book by the New York Times op-ed columnist tells readers it's okay to consume, consume, consume-so long as they look toward the future while doing so. At times playful and sarcastic (though less funny than intended), the book jumps from statistical analysis to cultural observation to defense of Bush's foreign policy, all without much of a mooring in essential context or factual citation. This is deceptive optimism; one long essay insisting our society's problems are not so big, provided we talk about them in the right way. While engagingly written and insightful at points, Brooks's affirmation is unlikely to resound with anyone outside the conservative choir, and even less likely to spark change-or even a desire for change. Still, it's nice to feel loved-if not by the rest of the world, than at least by this author.
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Woe the conservative who finds favor with the “liberal” press. After his breakthrough turn in Bobos in Paradise, Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist, was the rare elephant in the living room that the Blue states could cuddle up to. While none of the criticism seems overtly motivated by politics, there is a tone of disappointment in most of the reviews. Brooks still has a way with his well-honed cultural skewer, although a tendency towards generalizations bothers many critics. The loudest grumbles are provoked by Brooks’s incessant need to go for the easy joke, many of which just aren’t funny. More importantly, critics raise questions about the relevance of his argument. It seems, for the moment, the zeitgeist has Mr. Brooks in its rear-view mirror.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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