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Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before Paperback – March 6, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 189 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In their 2000 book, Millennials Rising, Neil Howe and William Straus argued that children born after 1982 will grow up to become America's next Greatest Generation—filled with a sense of optimism and civic duty—but according to San Diego State psychology professor Twenge, such predictions are wishful thinking. Lumping together Gen-X and Y under the moniker "GenMe," Twenge argues that those born after 1970 are more self-centered, more disrespectful of authority and more depressed than ever before. When the United States started the war in Iraq, she points out, military enlistments went down, not up. (Born in 1971, Twenge herself is at the edge of the Me Generation.) Her book is livened with analysis of films, magazines and TV shows, and with anecdotal stories from her life and others'. The real basis of her argument, however, lies in her 14 years of research comparing the results of personality tests given to boomers when they were under 30 and those given to GenMe-ers today. Though Twenge's opinionated asides may occasionally set Gen-X and -Yers' teeth on edge, many of her findings are fascinating. And her call to "ditch the self-esteem movement" in favor of education programs that encourage empathy and real accomplishment could spare some Me-ers from the depression that often occurs when they hit the realities of today's increasingly competitive workplace. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A new book tackles the 18-to-35-year-old generation's problems--those they face and those they create.Twenge's book is comprehensive and scholarly, filled with statistics and thoughtful observations about the group she's dubbed Generation Me. These young people were raised with the idea of self-esteem being more important than achievement, which has caused them to place the self above all else. Such beliefs also have created a generation of young people who believe every dream is attainable but who aren't prepared to deal with discovering it isn't so. Twenge notes that today's young parents are especially lenient with their children and reluctant to discipline them, suggesting that perhaps the next generation will be even worse off. Twenge believes Generation Me would benefit from a heavy dose of realism. Accessible and a must-read for the generation they address. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743276981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276986
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Desjardins on July 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First, the high points. The author has a lot of interesting survey data that she uses compare the attitudes of "baby boomers" and "generation me".

She shows how today's youth are much more accepting of other races, cultures and sexual orientations; how people are open about their feelings; how women no longer face the kind of discrimination that they did 30 years ago; how young people want to do fulfilling things with their lives and are more self-reliant than ever.

And of course we see the downside: narcissism due to what can only be described as too much self-esteem; an unwillingness to take personal responsibility; too much of a focus on money and celebrity; and an epidemic of depression that no one has yet found a cause for.

The contrast between the generations is very interesting - dating someone outside your race is no longer an issue; the average woman in 2005 has a more aggressive personality (as measured by her survey) than the average man did in 1968. All cool stuff, and it would have been great if the author could have distilled the most significant of these differences into a single chapter.

Unfortunately, she didn't, and I found this to be a very frustrating read overall. She discusses the mismatch between the ambitions of young people and the careers they ultimately end up in. She is right to question kids who want to be "made" into famous hip-hop stars or models or actors, but she also sneers at all of the kids who want to be doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc.
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Format: Paperback
Initially I was excited by this book. As an anthropologist, the many differences between generations are a subject that never fails to fascinate. Unfortunately, while the author tosses out great statistics indicating fair research, she couches it all in an `I, me, my, mine' framework. This focuses the book not so much on a generation that may differ from those who came before but on the author herself, her education, her college years, and her friends. The overall impression is an unstructured book justifying why they themselves are having trouble with the joys and trials of living life.
If the reader is looking for another whining confused confessional please continue. If you are looking for a book that may lend insight in to why the under 30 crowd do what they do then I would recommend that you read elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd describe this book as an interesting yet flawed work- it raises some interesting questions, but often fails to follow through with incisive analysis.

Any book that attempts to describe "a generation" is going to raise objections of over-generalization and, therefore, anyone who writes such a book really should start by explaining just why, exactly, this is a useful characterization. At a minimum, there are problems of periodization, inclusiveness, and timeliness.

Some generations have been shaped by world-historical events (e.g., WWII, Cold War, Great Depression) but, since that does not seem to be the case here, then why define a generation as beginning in 1973 instead of 1982, or 1989? And, although the author beats pretty hard on the diversity drum, her observations often seem entirely centered on her own white, liberal, upper-middle-class self. Perhaps that's inevitable, but, if her "generation" generalities do not include those who are non-white, non-liberal, or non-middle-class then she should explicitly say so.

The primary thesis of this book seems to be that a sort of extreme individualism is characteristic of her "Generation Me." One problem with this is that it may be too soon to say- after all, a similar survey of young adults in 1928 might have reached similar conclusions, yet a survey of the same people in 1948 might well have discovered a greater accommodation to collective action and personal sacrifice. Also, she seems to define "generations" largely on the basis of a shared common popular culture without any apparent awareness that conformity to an omnipresent, highly commercialized popular culture just might be antithetical to a more authentic individuality.

The book seemed particularly weak in discussing family and marriage.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In general, I thought this book was quite good. It is not dry or academic at all, as I was expecting it to be. The research is explained briefly and then illustrated with anecdotes. Most of the conclusions are, I feel, intuitive and correct, and I felt like she was describing the experiences of my family and friends.

If there is a great weakness to the book, it is the book's failure to emphasize that the problems it addresses basically stem from poor philosophy, which is the underlying why to the how of poor child-rearing that she describes. I laughed out loud at her sequelae on hot-button political issues like multiculturalism, on which she lapses into the ideological language that she has effectively just been deriding. In sum, she says we need to move forward into the brave new world of the 1950s tweaked in just the way she wants it tweaked--a pretty amorphous and naive plan viewed from a soc-anth or poli-sci perspective.

Part of the reason that this failure creates a weakness in the book is that it ties her down to prescriptions that continue to deal with symptoms rather than underlying causes. Her advice to GenMe on avoiding depression essentially amounts to taking over-the-counter supplements instead of prescription meds (that was another place I laughed).

My completely unprofessional diagnosis is that the failure is connected to her own inability to overcome the GenMe mould. And why should she try when the basic difference between her and her confreres is that she has achieved what GenMe wants (prestigious job, satisfying unmarried lover, national fame, etc.)?
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