Your Garage Up to 80 Percent Off Textbooks Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Happy Belly Coffee Totes Summer-Event-Garden Amazon Cash Back Offer ElvisandNixon ElvisandNixon ElvisandNixon  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis Water Sports
Customer Review

155 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Book or Two, May 29, 2000
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Hardcover)
"Bobo" is author David Brooks' acronym for a Bourgeois Bohemian, a synthesis of Reaganism and Woodstock, the folks he says are running the country today. Bobos are new money--the meritocracy of smart folk who have become rich as fast-track professionals, clever enterpreneurs, start-up capitalists, or visionaries like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Some Bobos are capitalistic hippies and some are mellowed-out business people; Bobo is their common meeting ground. True to their mixed heritage, Bobos love oxymoronic concepts like "sustainable development," "cooperative individualism" or "liberation management." Reconciliation is their middle name.
Bobos dislike showing off, but of course all rich people do, so they are allowed to show off in discreet ways. Mercedes are out, but SUV's are in. Jewelry is out, but eco-tourism is in. Bobox buy the same things the rest of us do (bread, chicken, coffee) but pay from 3 to 10 times the mass-market price in search of something better, organic, or more planet-friendly. In fact, anything that shows one to be a friend to the planet is fair game, no matter how silly. There's even a toothpaste that encourages germs to leave the mouth.
Needless to say, it takes a huge income to be a true Bobo. Brooks almost had this reviewer feeling sorry for the poor U. of Chicago professor forced to live on a "mere" household income of $180K, barely enough to cover private schools for her kids and a nanny. The wretch suffers from what Brooks calls "status-income disequilibrium" or "SID" because her pay, while handsome, pales before her similarly educated peers in the professions and business, with whom she has to socialize at symposia.
America teems with the newly rich. Bobos are most easily spotted in "Latte Towns" like Madison, Wisconsin or Northampton, Massachusetts. Ideally, such venues have "a Swedish-style government, German-style pedestrian malls, Victorian houses, Native American crafts, Italian coffee, Berkeley human rights groups, and Beverly Hills income levels." That's where you'll see the businessman wearing hiking boots patiently explaining 401(k) plans to the aging hippie who's making a killing selling bicyles, or software, or sandwiches.
Brooks is at his best describing the furbelows and follies of Bobo-dom. But Bobos in Paradise is really two books in one. Massive amounts of this text could have been computer cut-and-pasted from a work called something like American Intellectual History: 1955-2000. Sometimes Brooks maintains a light tone (without being truly funny), sometimes he is merely factual. I really didn't need to hear three times how tendentious the old Partisan Review gang was back in the fifties. I didn't really need to hear how a Bobo should act on a political chat show (smile a lot and be positive). I didn't really need to hear how TV has coopted intellectual life (that process began in the fifties with J. Fred Muggs and Steve-a-reeno, before most Bobos were born, and it was dealt with much better in the book Nobrow, anyway).
Don't get me wrong, the funny parts of this book are quite funny, and for that reason alone I'm giving it four stars. If it had been consistently funny and satiric I would have given it five. I came real close to giving it a three because the slow stretches, while not inaccurate, did little to further the author's thesis. If you intend to write pop sociology, better to write first-rate pop sociology than second-rate academic sociology.
One point to ponder is whether the term "Bobo" will catch on. In 1945 no one had heard of a "Highbrow" and in 1980 no one knew what a "Yuppie" was. And there were plenty of columnists who said that we didn't need such words, yet they became coin of the realm anyway. If it strikes you that your local rich people are starting to act like a fusion of Richard Gere and Bill Gates, or Al Gore and Jerry Garcia, then maybe the Bobo moniker might just cover them all. Hopeless trendoids, take note and read this book before the inevitable paperback edition.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in