Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There Paperback – March 6, 2001
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
You've seen them: They sip double-tall, nonfat lattes, chat on cell phones, and listen to NPR while driving their immaculate SUVs to Pottery Barn to shop for $48 titanium spatulas. They tread down specialty cheese aisles in top-of-the-line hiking boots and think nothing of laying down $5 for an olive-wheatgrass muffin. They're the bourgeois bohemians--"Bobos"--an unlikely blend of mainstream culture and 1960s-era counterculture that, according to David Brooks, represents both America's present and future: "These Bobos define our age. They are the new establishment. Their hybrid culture is the atmosphere we all breathe. Their status codes now govern social life." Amusing stereotypes aside, they're an "elite based on brainpower" and merit rather than pedigree or lineage: "Dumb good-looking people with great parents have been displaced by smart, ambitious, educated, and antiestablishment people with scuffed shoes."
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
Transcendentalists vs. robber barons, beatniks vs. men in gray flannel suits, hippies vs. hawks: for more than a century, U.S. culture has been driven forward by tensions between bohemians and the bourgeoisie. Brooks, an editor at the conservative Weekly Standard and at Newsweek and an NPR commentator, argues that this longstanding paradigm has been eroded by the merging of bohemians and bourgeoisie into a new cultural, intellectual and financial elite: the "bobos." Drawing on diverse examples--from an analysis of the New York Times' marriage pages, the sociological writings of Vance Packard, Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte and such films as The Graduate--he wittily defends his thesis that the information age, in which ideas are as "vital to economic success as natural resources or finance capital," has created a culture in which once-uptight Babbitts relax and enjoy the sensual and material side of life and anti-establishment types relish capitalist success; thus a meritocracy of intellectualism and money has replaced the cultural war between self-expression and self-control. While it works well on a superficial level, Brooks's analysis is problematic upon close examination. For example, his claim that Ivy League universities moved toward a meritocracy when, in the 1960s, they began accepting some students on academic rather than family standing ignores the reality that the "legacy" system is still in force. Ultimately, by focusing myopically on the discrete phenomenon of the establishment of "bobos," Brooks avoids more complicated discussions of race, class, poverty or the cultural wars on abortion, homosexuality, education and religion that still rage today. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
But under the tongue-in-cheek veneer are some important cultural messages. Strip away the $5 bagels and $5,000 shower stalls, and there are people searching for meaning in life (see Erich Fromm's books for a different view on this), because they have a complex mix of cultures behind them that need to be resolved. A critical point is that education matters, possibly above all else. It creates the need for the search, but also enables the search to take place.
This book will give you an important insight into the state of the current generation of people well up the tree. It's not highly academic, it's not impersonal and impartial, it doesn't get deeply into the psychology and cultural isses involved. But these aren't weaknesses of the book. This is a first overview of the field. We can expect more material in time, in other forms.
Brooks fills this book with hilarious insights about bourgeoise bohmemians. Among my favorites are such rules for bobos as: (1) Only vulgarians spend lavish amounts of money on luxuries. Cultivated people restrict lavish spending to necessities. (2) You can never have too much texture. (3) Educated elites are expected to spend huge amounts of money on things that used to be cheap. "Bobos prefer the same items as the proletariat," says Brooks. "It's just that they buy rarefied versions--the $3.75 cup of coffee, the $12 bar of soap, a white T-shirt for $50 or more."
This book certainly captured the values of people that I know. But I rate "Bobos" ony four stars because it does read in parts like a pumped up magazine article, with Brooks seeming to develop his ideas to fill pages, not just to make a point. Regardless, READ THIS BOOOK!
Grael Norton, Senior Faculty, AuthorsAcademy.com
Unlike other readers who have posted their opinions here, I DO think that Brooks has an important and original sociological insight, though it is imperfectly linked to his discussion of social class. There IS a new consensus about moral and material virtue, and it is not wrong (even if a bit glib) to call it "bourgeois" and "bohemian" (hence, "bobo").
His satire of "Bobos," however, is exaggerated for humor (Brooks's real metier), and he thus ends up making claims for the ubiquity and power of the "Bobo" class that are, as other readers have pointed out, simply unwarranted. The satiric jauntiness of parts of the book (the best parts) are never harmonized with the pious conclusion that bobos are really not so bad, indeed that in boboism lies our social salvation (a piety that I hope would move the "real David Brooks" to laughter).
Honestly, though, I happen to agree with both perspectives, and only wish that Brooks had been able to pull off the elusive meeting point; sadly he did not. At its worst moments, this books feels like "Dave Barry meets Fyodor Dostoyevsky" (whom I believe this Dave does actually quote). It's still worth reading, though, for its best and irreverent highpoints.