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The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasnt My Fault) (And Ill Never Do It Again) Hardcover – January 7, 2014
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P.J. O'Rourke and Dave Barry in Conversation
In the first paragraph of the prologue to his new book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way... And It Wasn't My Fault... And I'll Never Do It Again, political humor writer P.J. O'Rourke declares in no uncertain terms that he is "full of crap." Similarly, in the introduction to his upcoming book, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty, humor columnist Dave Barry explains that his book, despite its subtitle "Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About," is not about parenting.
It's easy to imagine that when these two bestselling authors and longtime pals get together, commiserative silliness ensues. But in this case, no imagination is necessary. We popped in on an email exchange between these two masters of existential trolling. Here's what happened:
Dave Barry: P.J. — I loved The Baby Boom which manages to be both hilarious and insightful. What I want to know is: How did you remember all that stuff? Especially about the '60s. Didn't you take drugs? Of course not! Neither did I! Drugs are bad! But my memories of that era are very purple-hazy, whereas you seem to remember every detail of everything that happened. How did you do that?
P.J. O'Rourke: I made it up. I'm a professional reporter. I'm PAID to make things up. Actually, I do remember a lot about the '60s. Probably because I still know a lot of the same people. And they're still yelling at me about things I did back then. Keeps memories fresh. Sort of like a wife. Just kidding, dear. Sort of like a first wife. And I loved You Can Date Boys When You're Forty. You admit you went to a Justin Bieber concert. Kind of pushing the envelope even for a confessional memoir. You're brave, dude, brave.
DB: I did indeed go to a Justin Bieber concert, because my daughter really really really wanted to go because she LOVED Justin Bieber. It was terrifying. I was in Coral Gables, Florida, in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew passed over and nearly took off the roof of the home in which I was cowering. I understood then why the noise of a hurricane is always compared to a freight train. What it SHOULD be compared to is a Justin Bieber concert. Given the choice, I'd rather sit through Andrew again.
PJO: When I pick my daughters up from school they, for some reason I can't imagine, don't want to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and so they tune the radio to what sounds to me like somebody donated 200 drum sets and an Auto-Tune to a juvenile delinquent corrections facility. But does this mean today's music sucks? Yes.
Read the full conversation on Omnivoracious.
"Prolific political and social commentator O’Rourke, author of 17 books, including the bestselling Parliament of Whores, has created here a thoughtful portrait of the baby boomer generation and what its members have done for the American way of life, and the way we talked everybody into letting us get away with it.” While O’Rourke acknowledges that sweeping generalizations about millions of Americans do not always apply, he seems to feel comfortable enough standardizing boomers at large as creatures of self-interest, hypocrisy, and hysteria. But even while discussing annual income and per capita GDP, O’Rourke maintains the dry wit that makes every chapter a delight, even if the picture they form is incomplete. The hilarity is helped along by plenty of anecdotes from his own life as a boomer, including the tale of when O’Rourke’s underground newspaper was occupied overnight by Balto-Cong radicals. As a cultural analyst, O’Rourke’s ability and willingness to simultaneously lampoon and celebrate himself and his generation are unequaled." - Publishers Weekly
P.J. O'Rourke's Baby Boom may just be his best book ever. Teems with heart and humor -- much of it laugh out loud, or as the post-boomers would say, LOL -- as well as with his trademark brilliant social commentary. A terrific American memoir, in tone a beguiling mix of Jean Shepherd and "Animal House." In fact, I'm going to revise my prior statement and say flat-out that this is O'Rourke's best book ever, which is a saying a lot.”- Christopher Buckley
"His simultaneously hilarious and brainy new book, "The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way And It Wasn't My Fault And I'll Never Do It Again," holds a cracked magnifying glass up to the generation of Americans born between the end of World War II and the early 1960s. Sifting through demographic and economic data and combining the results with generous portions of personal memories, O'Rourke finds much to deplore in the boomer character, but even more to cherish and celebrate." -- Chicago Tribune
"Better than an Ed Sullivan marathon, more enjoyable than Beach Boys Radio Weekend, and more fun than cleaning out your parents' attic, this book is a boomer's delight. If your bags are packed for a trip down memory lane, 'The Baby Boom' is a book you'll want to remember to take with you." -- The Spectrum
"Delightfully and devilishly hilarious...O'Rourke shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to his witty chronicling of American life." -- Toronto Sun
"A comedic and caustic cautionary tale for future generations and, for those of us who are Boomers, a nostalgic and hilarious diversion." -- NPR
Praise for P.J. O'Rourke:
A prolific humorist continues his outpouring of solid writing. . . some very fine travel writing, the best of which is wickedly droll O'Rourke at his very best. . . . Here's hoping there's another 15 books still to come.”Los Angeles Times on Holidays in Heck
If all of America’s registered Republicans were struck by an ideology-specific bird flu, and 50 among them had to be placed in a secure bunker to repopulate the species entirely, P.J. O’Rourke would hold a place on many people’s list, mine included. He’s funny. He tends to be against boredom and in favor of the pursuit of nonsobriety. He has a sharp nose for cant and bogusness. His conservatism is rooted in a fondness for ordinary things and a philosophy of individual common sense.” Dwight Garner, The New York Times on Holidays in Heck
O’Rourke is an actual conservative, with ideas and a conscience, as opposed to the stealth flacks staying on party message that often pass for conservatives in these Hannitized and Limbaughtomized days.”Chicago Sun-Times on Peace Kills
Mocking on the surface but serious beneath, sharply attuned to quotidian hypocrisy and contradiction...this book contains some of O’Rourke’s best work to date. When it comes to scouting the world for world-class absurdities, he is the right man for the job.”Los Angeles Times Book Review on Give War a Chance
His explanations . . . with a-joke-each-phrase aplomb (forget waiting until the end of the sentence) make you wish he had been your economics professor in college instead of the bow-tie wearing nerd who droned on about widgets. In fact, if you fell asleep hiding your eyelids under the rim of your baseball cap during Econ 101, this book is for you.”The Philadelphia Inquirer on Eat the Rich
Highly pungent and wickedly accurate observations . . . [from a] boisterous, pedal-to-the-floor humorist . . . The results would curl the ponytails of most poli-sci professors.”The New York Times Book Review on Parliament of Whores
An acerbic master of gonzo journalism and one of America’s most hilarious and provocative writers . . . a volatile brew of one-liners and vitriol.”TIME on Give War a Chance
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
But this book was intensely annoying - poorly written and edited in a way I found shocking. There's occasional gems, and a few bits of genuinely cogent analysis and comment. And there's a few funny stories. But much of it was just so rambling and incoherent that I struggled to wade my way through it.
I could never conceive of not finishing one of his books, until now. Maybe I'm missing something, maybe he was making ironic comment on the rambling & incoherent nature of much of the baby-boom's contribution to the world of ideas. Dunno - if he was, it didn't work.
Even if you're sick and tired of the prospect of yet ANOTHER apologia from a member of the Boomer generation, this book is well worth your time.