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Noted essayist and former American Scholar editor Epstein, having enlightened us on ambition (Ambition: The Secret Passion), now turns to its companion, snobbery. The topic is ripe with promise, but Epstein's observations are less revelatory than entertaining. Underneath their pretentious exteriors, he writes, snobs are insecure people who have latched onto arbitrary measures of status to prove they're worthier than those around them. It's natural fallout, he says, in a world where complete fairness is nonexistent. The best antidote to snobbery, Epstein suggests, is to treat people the same, regardless of their circumstances, and to value things for their intrinsic worth rather than their cachet. Epstein shares his own snobbish tendencies and biases at the outset. From childhood, he writes, his snob radar was fully operational, and by his senior year in high school he was already "an impressively cunning statustician." Epstein goes on to deal with a range of past and present pretensions relating to class, work, democracy, possessions, parenting, college, clubs and intellectualism. In one delicious instance, he describes an American reaction to visiting royalty. "Princess Diana, not long before she died, visited Northwestern University, where I teach," he writes. "The spectacle of the university president, a smallish man in glasses, following the Princess about the campus, yapping away, reminded one of nothing so much as that of a Chihuahua attempting to mount an Afghan hound." The chapter on name-dropping is particularly sharp, citing a variety of ways people exploit connections to well-known individuals for social profit. Epstein has a wickedly wonderful sense of humor and keen observational skills, both on display in the firsthand anecdotes scattered throughout this essayistic assemblage.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This readable but serious work examines the nature and place of snobbery and its various manifestations in America, from the country's founding to the present. Epstein (English & writing, Northwestern Univ.) defines snobbery as the practice of making oneself feel superior at the expense of others and argues that as long as people are seeking self-affirmation, it will long live on. He writes of snobbery in the workplace; of its presence in evaluating education, taste, dress, wealth, and race as factors in determining "class" inclusion; and of the snob factors involved in ranking one's status and prestige in all walks of life and situations. He identifies celebrity-level requirements in today's world, compares his own snobberies with those he discerns in others, and overviews Americans' interactions with the cultures of England and the European continent. While Epstein's argument is quite witty and thoughtful, the scant bibliographic references and conversational tone will limit this book's appeal in academic libraries. It is, however, highly recommended for all general readers and public libraries. Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is probably Joseph Epstein at his best. "Snobbery: The American Version" is an easy read where the author gives readers his opinion about renown literarily and popular... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Chilensis
I read the Kindle version of this book. I agree with some of the other reviewers that it seems, at times, a platform on which to display the author's own snobbish sensibilities... Read morePublished 23 months ago by John C. Black, Jr.
The idea that this person aims to provide some sort of social commentary is laughable. With a little talent for using dressed up language, Epstein has done little more than give... Read morePublished on May 6, 2013 by Gary
Definitely thought provoking about the experiences we have had in life. If you like to think about how the people around you behave, this is a great read. Read morePublished on August 11, 2012 by maxama
After reading and loving the printed version of Epstein's FSJ, I got the Kindle version of his Snobbery. Read morePublished on June 19, 2012 by Turtle
Wishing to impress other people is snobbery. People are measured by extraneous things. It works through hope and fear.
Upward looking snobbery suggests envy. Read more
For some reason I assumed the author would think snobbery was a somewhat negative thing. Stupid me.
Epstein is a pedantic jerk who declares himself a snob, brags about... Read more
I didn't find the information particularly enlightening. I had the feeling that the author was "stretching" so as to write a book. I liked his fiction more.Published on August 12, 2008 by Rose Adler
We've all experienced snobbery in one form or another. Its interesting to see the categories of snobbery broken down. Read morePublished on November 6, 2006 by Arcona