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Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers Paperback – July 21, 2009
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Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers is classic Tom Wolfe, a funny, irreverent, and "delicious" (The Wall Street Journal) dissection of class and status by the master of New Journalism
The phrase 'radical chic' was coined by Tom Wolfe in 1970 when Leonard Bernstein gave a party for the Black Panthers at his duplex apartment on Park Avenue. That incongruous scene is re-created here in high fidelity as is another meeting ground between militant minorities and the liberal white establishment. Radical Chic provocatively explores the relationship between Black rage and White guilt.
Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, set in San Francisco at the Office of Economic Opportunity, details the corruption and dysfunction of the anti-poverty programs run at that time. Wolfe uncovers how much of the program's money failed to reach its intended recipients. Instead, hustlers gamed the system, causing the OEO efforts to fail the impoverished communities.
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“What Tom Wolfe has done is create an appallingly funny, cool, small, deflative two-scene social drama about America's biggest, hottest, and most perplexing problem--the confrontation between Black Rage and White Guilt.” ―Time magazine
“Wolfe's genius is that he is fair; he puts the Bernstein part in perspective against the background of New York social history. Read it and weep with laughter.” ―Houston Post
“A sociological classic . . . At Wolfe's hands the socialites get a roasting they will long remember.” ―Saturday Review
“Tom Wolfe understands the human animal like no sociologist around. He tweaks his reader's every buried though and prejudice. He sees through everything. He is as original and outrageous as ever.” ―The New York Times
“Uproariously funny and socially perceptive . . . a penetrating dissection of the confusion among the classes and the search for status.” ―Women's Wear Daily
“Tom Wolfe at his most clever, amusing, and irreverent.” ―San Franciscio Chronicle
“Absolutely brilliant. One of the finest examples of reporting and social commentary I have read anywhere.” ―Gay Talese
About the Author
Tom Wolfe (1930-2018) was one of the founders of the New Journalism movement and the author of such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, as well as the novels The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. As a reporter, he wrote articles for The Washington Post, the New York Herald Tribune, Esquire, and New York magazine, and is credited with coining the term, “The Me Decade.”
Among his many honors, Tom was awarded the National Book Award, the John Dos Passos Award, the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, the National Humanities Medal, and National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, he earned his B.A. at Washington and Lee University, graduating cum laude, and a Ph.D. in American studies at Yale. He lived in New York City.
- Publisher : Picador; First edition (July 21, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 144 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312429134
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312429133
- Item Weight : 4.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.71 x 0.39 x 8.18 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #229,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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As a writer, Wolfe, could not possibly have done a better job. The narrator is everywhere but is not himself a character in the proceedings. He may be a fly on the wall but he is a fly that takes copious notes. The details are magnificent and he has a savant's eye for great quotations. You'll laugh, you'll rage, the limousine liberals and champagne socialists will astound you. The book was written over 30 years ago but it is just as applicable today as one could replace The Black Panthers with a nineties fellon like Mumia Abu Jamal. The section on mau-mauing, or the fine art of the racial shakedown, is totally priceless. It too is as applicable to the present as to the past. Wolfe foreshadows the great future successes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson at coercing cash out of whites who willingly give it away to ease their politically correct minds. A magnificent effort and, at 10 bucks, the price isn't bad--a pity that he didn't write another 200 pages.
Top reviews from other countries
Radical Chic was hard going, possibly because a Brit born in the 80s and come of age in the 90s it was hard to get the barrage of references about 60s - 70s US. Reading that first was a bit of a chore. Possibly all the superfluous details were just to show how vaccuous his subjects were and I didn't need to get them (like American Psycho - but without the payoffs)
I'm any case the switch of styles was very impressive. He takes the Park Avenue set and the folks from the ghetto and presents them exactly as he finds them, no judgement, no moralising, no explaining, empathy with no sympathy. And very funny.
Picked this up because Tom Wolfe books are usually very large, thought I'd dip my toe in, sample the author, and I think I might try something bigger and better known another time.