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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 9, 2013
Baby Boom compiles a lifetime of clichés from birth, childhood, adolescence, teen, college, and adulthood. It is introduced with these sage words: "I am - it is a writer's vocation and the métier of his age cohort - full of crap."

O'Rourke describes his generation as the first to have too many answers. As high schoolers, everyone wanted to never change from that state. O'Rourke asks us to imagine the world if that had happened. It would be exactly as it is. The generation that invented tackle basketball is now running things. Are there any other questions?

It's a tongue-in-cheek one-up of The Greatest Generation - the Baby Boom's uptight, boring parents. O'Rourke claims the Baby Boom generation is the greatest, and spends the entire book disproving it, while still claiming it. What it all comes down to is nothing- we're still just humans, doing a middling to lousy job of it. Generation labels notwithstanding.

The book operates at three levels. At the lowest and least sharp, O'Rourke relives his own life, with his various friends, neighbors and family being the butt of his humor. The middle level is how they all fit into postwar and new (Viet Nam) war America, with its hypocrisy, politics and prejudice. The top level is by far the best. It is paragraphs of sweeping uncalled for generalizations about the Baby Boom, the Boomers, and American Society. There he swings for the fences, while at the other levels he has to settle for forced clever. So it's all over the place, sometimes wild, sometimes flat, but always trivial.

David Wineberg
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on December 9, 2013
Classic O'Rourke, maybe a little less humorous than previous books, but a little more thought provoking. As someone born at the very end of the Baby Boom generation, I still don't consider myself a baby boomer, but don't feel like a part of Gen X either, so this was a good primer of what I should be feeling/dealing with as a boomer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 9, 2014
The arrival of a new book by P.J. O'Rourke is always a cause for celebration. He is, hands down, one of the funniest, most insightful living writers. The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again) continues his string of great humor, great social commentary, and great thinking. O'Rourke fans will not be disappointed.

In the style of a rambling memoir, O'Rourke recounts his own life as a mirror of his generation. Much has been written about baby boomers, none of it as funny as The Baby Boom. Randomly open the book and you will, without fail, find some laugh-out-loud one liners. But reading the book cover to cover and seeing the themes and running jokes develop make this much more than a collection of jokes and anecdotes.

I devoured the book and found plenty to love, but I am still nostalgic for some of his past books. I don't know of a better book on our system of government than Parliament of Whores. And no one breaks down international economic theory better than O'Rourke in Eat the Rich. The Baby Boom is more like CEO of the Sofa, a loosely structured stream of consciousness.

O'Rourke is a national treasure. Long may he make us laugh.
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on January 22, 2014
Who has lost a few miles per hour on his fastball, but can still be counted on to get you some quality innings. As some of the reviews have stated, it isn't quite as sharp or biting as he used to be, but this book has it's moments. His wry observations about the similiarities between time periods (comparing the prattle of his aunts writing his mother 60 years ago to Twitter, for instance) are insightful and interesting.

One particular fault is that while he talks about the Baby Boomer generation as encompassing a fairly long time period, and even talks about the four sub-groups within it, he tends to focus on the older ones...which, I guess, is understandable. As a "Freshman" of the Baby Boomer I could appreciate some of it, but he could have done a bit more on how the later 'Boomers reacted differently to the same issues.

In general, however, the book is a good read, especially those over 50...and I suspect the older, the more you will appreciate the observations.
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on January 15, 2014
I have read all of O'Rourke's books over the years and this one, like the others, does not fail to provide the usual mix of semi-tragic insightful humor and merciless, critical self-reflection that made me alternate between laughter and tears. Here, he ambitiously paints the generation from 1946 to 1964 with a broad brush from the perspective of a rambunctious midwestern middle class kid raised in a milk toast neighborhood who eventually gets caught up in left wing campus drug, sex and political activism scenes. He takes on an entire generation's ideals and pretentiousness, its material excesses and its self-indulgence, its creativity and its hypocrisy, and its power to control and change the world. Whether or not the changes were for the better are debatable.

The best part of the book is the first half, where he hilariously describes miscellaneous "boys will be boys so get out of their way" antics to which most middle class American kids from that era will be able to relate. The second half is more serious, and though still peppered with wickedly biting humorous reflection, includes more controversial commentary and off-hand barbs against everything from the Viet Nam war to the burgeoning national debt, without offering much in the way of point counterpoint.
The book is definitely politically incorrect and adult-oriented, guaranteed to offend almost everyone, and thus is not for people who take themselves too seriously. You will likely laugh out loud in many parts, so it would be rude to read it on redeye flights where others are trying to sleep.
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on February 22, 2015
More a stream of consciousness about the generation. Certainly not any effort at literary prose. It seems the author was doing little more than readying himself for a book tour. I have read other O'Rourke books and liked them....there are phrases in this book that will bring a laugh, but basically it's just random thoughts. If the topic appeals to you, read Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. WAY more on the topic, and actually a book.
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on October 4, 2014
I am impressed by the author. I have been reading his work for more than 40 years. He has been a great writer. He knows what he is doing. He is also a great speaker though not prognosticator since he told my wife Hillary Clinton could never get elected to the senate. His writing has been silly in National Lampoon, serious as an international correspondent and rather interesting as he has put his philosophy into books. Some are better than others. This book is not his best though there is no denying that we enjoyed it. His observations were wry but accurate and it went on too long.
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on January 15, 2014
What a well-wrought book. O'Rourke's pacing and control have never been better. He warms to his subject and drags the reader along with him and, as the song goes...laughing all the ways. Although it's been said as hyperbole, I truly could not put it down until I had finished it.

Like Twain, O'Rourke is a distinctly American writer who understands that wisdom and insight are best administered with generous doses of humor.
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on June 7, 2014
...this is not one of his best. Losing his touch? More a personal memoir than a humor book. Squarely ducks the issue of serving in Vietnam which was the ultimate Baby Boomer test (I'm a Vietnam veteran) which leaves a hole in the middle of the book -- kind of like the cop-out in Forrest Gump where the microphone fails at the antiwar rally just as Forrest is about to give his opinion on the war. There are occasional flashes of smile or grin prose but no laugh out loud passages as in his other books, which I love.
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on July 17, 2014
The Baby Boom-How it got That Way and It Wasn’t My Fault and I’ll Never do it Again by P.J. O’Rourke
Reviewed by Andy McKinney
P.J. O’Rourke has some 15 other books under his authorship. His subjects include disturbances in the Third World in “Holidays in Hell”, partisan politics in America in “Republican Party Reptile” and international finance and prosperity in “On the Wealth of Nations”. We love his writing for the apt turn of phrase and incessant wit. Who can forget his description of a senior Pilipino combat army officer in “Holidays in Hell”- “He is compact and fierce, sort of like an attack hamster.” Or his encounter with a vampire bat while covering upsets in Central America. “The vampire bat is sort of like a general in the rat Air Force, is rats had an Air Force.”
O’Rourke examined the Congress in his unforgettable “Parliament of Whores” and dissected the then current conflicts and crises in “Give War a Chance”. Both of these takes on important subjects achieved the coveted number one spot on the New York Times best seller list. Given the size of the boomer generation, “The Baby Boom” has a good chance to join them.
He grows better, like good Kentucky whiskey, with age. “The Baby Boom” has by my estimate three such adages for each of its258 pages. To read O’Rourke is to revel in the use of the English language. And laugh, do not forget the laughter. O’Rourke writes in a way that tickles our funny bones then pulls our funny bones out and plays them like a flute. I did not feel the least bit self conscious sitting quietly in my easy chair and laughing out loud at some outrageous, but sharp and apt, observation of his.
“The Baby Boom” purports to be cover the most stupendous generation of all time, the 75 million strong cohort of babies that skewed the statistics of everything and arrived in the nation’s delivery rooms between 1946 and 1964. This bust of phenomenal fecundity will likely never be excelled. Many gen-Xers hope not.
Disappointment overcame me when half way through the book it became clear that O’Rourke wrote mostly about his experience as a child -“children blessed with an over abundance of love, safety and material goods”- and his life path and not about ME and my experience. This proves twice one of his main observations, that we are not just the largest generation of all time but the most self absorbed. Points go to the author.
He brings us a decade by decade peek into our private and public lives. We had a golden, unprecedented, childhood. We never found a drug we didn’t relish, at least for a while. His description of spending hours trapped in his own stairwell on acid terrifies and makes us laugh at the same time. He imagined himself in the bowels of a giant eel; to go up was to risk the eel’s teeth, to go down to risk another fate.
Now as we approach our dotage we accelerate sales of depends and wiener pills instead of cribs and kindergarten classes and can look back on our impact on the world, our nation and ourselves from a certain perspective. Not a bad generation at all compared to others. If we haven’t gone to the moon or haven’t produced anything to resemble the 1957 Chevy or the original Ford Mustang, some of our first offspring were conceived in the back seats of second family cars. For all of our excesses and follies, we have eventually done the right things. More or less.
“The Baby Boom” might be the best we have from P.J. yet. Want a terrific read? Find it here.
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