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Baby Boomers (and I confess I am one): prepare to squirm and shake your increasingly arthritic little fists. For here comes essayist Helen Andrews. --Terry Castle With two recessions and a botched pandemic under their belt, the Boomers are their children's favorite punching bag. But is the hatred justified? Is the destruction left in their wake their fault or Baby Boomers (and I confess I am one): prepare to squirm and shake your increasingly arthritic little fists. For here comes essayist Helen Andrews. --Terry Castle With two recessions and a botched pandemic under their belt, the Boomers are their children's favorite punching bag. But is the hatred justified? Is the destruction left in their wake their fault or simply the luck of the generational draw? In Boomers, essayist Helen Andrews addresses the Boomer legacy with scrupulous fairness and biting wit. Following the model of Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, she profiles six of the Boomers' brightest and best. She shows how Steve Jobs tried to liberate everyone's inner rebel but unleashed our stultifying digital world of social media and the gig economy. How Aaron Sorkin played pied piper to a generation of idealistic wonks. How Camille Paglia corrupted academia while trying to save it. How Jeffrey Sachs, Al Sharpton, and Sonya Sotomayor wanted to empower the oppressed but ended up empowering new oppressors. Ranging far beyond the usual Beatles and Bill Clinton clichés, Andrews shows how these six Boomers' effect on the world has been tragically and often ironically contrary to their intentions. She reveals the essence of Boomerness: they tried to liberate us, and instead of freedom they left behind chaos.


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Baby Boomers (and I confess I am one): prepare to squirm and shake your increasingly arthritic little fists. For here comes essayist Helen Andrews. --Terry Castle With two recessions and a botched pandemic under their belt, the Boomers are their children's favorite punching bag. But is the hatred justified? Is the destruction left in their wake their fault or Baby Boomers (and I confess I am one): prepare to squirm and shake your increasingly arthritic little fists. For here comes essayist Helen Andrews. --Terry Castle With two recessions and a botched pandemic under their belt, the Boomers are their children's favorite punching bag. But is the hatred justified? Is the destruction left in their wake their fault or simply the luck of the generational draw? In Boomers, essayist Helen Andrews addresses the Boomer legacy with scrupulous fairness and biting wit. Following the model of Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, she profiles six of the Boomers' brightest and best. She shows how Steve Jobs tried to liberate everyone's inner rebel but unleashed our stultifying digital world of social media and the gig economy. How Aaron Sorkin played pied piper to a generation of idealistic wonks. How Camille Paglia corrupted academia while trying to save it. How Jeffrey Sachs, Al Sharpton, and Sonya Sotomayor wanted to empower the oppressed but ended up empowering new oppressors. Ranging far beyond the usual Beatles and Bill Clinton clichés, Andrews shows how these six Boomers' effect on the world has been tragically and often ironically contrary to their intentions. She reveals the essence of Boomerness: they tried to liberate us, and instead of freedom they left behind chaos.

30 review for Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster

  1. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    This book was well-timed to capitalize on the "OK Boomer" meme that briefly swept the world in 2020. Rather than a straightforward curmudgeonly analysis of the values of the Baby Boomers, the book is actually structured as a set of short biographies of a number of people from that generation. The criticisms are mostly to be read between the lines. This is fine in itself and is probably even an appealing mode of storytelling. But for someone of the millennial generation (like the author) I was ho This book was well-timed to capitalize on the "OK Boomer" meme that briefly swept the world in 2020. Rather than a straightforward curmudgeonly analysis of the values of the Baby Boomers, the book is actually structured as a set of short biographies of a number of people from that generation. The criticisms are mostly to be read between the lines. This is fine in itself and is probably even an appealing mode of storytelling. But for someone of the millennial generation (like the author) I was hoping for more unpacking of a few of the blasphemous thoughts raised here, such as the idea that television is in fact as bad as Neil Postman had warned. Andrews ends on an important point that millennials have recreated many of the same deep assumptions about the world held by the Baby Boomers they rail against. If anything they are even intensifying them. Only a few segments of American society (Catholics are raised as an example) are inclined to view history as something valuable and worth defending, despite the fact that it began before 1960. This point about historical iconoclasm is important and the eradication of high and folk cultures that the Baby Boomers presided over has not been salutary on all counts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    What is a “baby boomer”? Technically, it is an American born between 1945 and 1964. More communicatively, a boomer is a member of the worst generation in American history, and perhaps the worst generation in human history. The boomers, handed a wonderful, successful, stable society, fed it into a woodchipper, starting the very instant they could have any influence on society. They cobbled together the brakeless clown car in which we now all must ride, and dumped the rest of us into it, after pic What is a “baby boomer”? Technically, it is an American born between 1945 and 1964. More communicatively, a boomer is a member of the worst generation in American history, and perhaps the worst generation in human history. The boomers, handed a wonderful, successful, stable society, fed it into a woodchipper, starting the very instant they could have any influence on society. They cobbled together the brakeless clown car in which we now all must ride, and dumped the rest of us into it, after picking our pockets and stripping every shred of our dignity. And now the author of this excellent book, Helen Andrews, who is not a boomer, expertly analyzes this decline and ongoing fall, through profiles of six boomers, each an exemplar (but not exemplary). I’m not a boomer either; I’m Generation X (1965–1980), from the middle of it. We’ve always been oppressed by the boomers, who ate the seed corn that should have fueled our generation’s success. But at least we came of age before the boomers truly ruined everything for the Millennials and later generations. That meant that at least some of us, especially those in the professional-managerial elite, were able to navigate the crumbling of our society to some degree of success and stability. The destruction wrought by the boomers, however, has now made it much harder for those who came later, Millennials and Generation Z, and nearly impossible for those not part of the upper tier of the two-tier, extractive, stupid society the boomers built. Despite not offering optimism, Boomers is a joy to read. Andrews’s writing is sparkling. She self-identifies as mean, though her touch is actually mostly fairly gentle; I would excoriate the boomers without mercy, but she is willing to give some of them the benefit of the doubt. So this book is not a polemic; if anything Andrews errs on the side of a mild lashing, rather than a vigorous flogging. Her book attempts to understand, and to show, how certain of the boomers, representative of their generation, “had all the elements of greatness but [their] effect on the world was tragically and often ironically contrary to their intentions.” I suppose that’s one way to put it. The inspiration for Boomers was, Andrews tells us, Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians, which, in the anger that followed the Great War, tore down those who had actually contributed to making an outstanding society. The two books really prove opposites, however: Strachey lied that the Victorians were a corrupt and incompetent ruling class; Andrews demonstrates that is precisely what the boomers are. But she explicitly wants, as Strachey reduced the influence of the Victorians on his world, to reduce the influence of the boomers on our world. Whether and how that can be done we will see later. And while Strachey is the author’s putative model, I think Boomers has more in common with Czesław Milosz’s The Captive Mind, which studied the accommodations, or not, made with Communism by four exemplars chosen by Milosz. Unlike Strachey, but like Milosz, Andrews accurately gives credit where credit is due, without holding fire when that’s called for. What did the boomers destroy? Andrews makes no attempt to itemize all their harms; this is a short book, and those facts have been often covered by others, though certainly elements crop up in the six profiles. In short, the boomers destroyed the fabric of society. They demanded rights, and rejected responsibilities. They destroyed families, and thereby the fulfillment of both men and women (Andrews attacks, in passing, Betty Friedan and her odious and lying screed, The Feminine Mystique). They destroyed education, substituting cant and leftist ideology for rigor and the transmission of American ideals. They crushed the working class, both through their extractive economics, such as globalization, and by smashing all intermediary institutions, while they exalted the federal government and the priesthood of the administrative state, thereby neutering the working class as a political force and mutating beyond recognition the political structure of the Republic. They destroyed high culture in everything from architecture to music to film. And much more—but, in short, they ruined everything that makes a society strong, capable, and enjoyable for all its members, rather than benefits only an elite, extractive few. There can be no doubt of any of this, which all began in the 1960s, at the very moment the boomers were able to begin hijacking the existing system, with the help of dissatisfied members of former generations who at that time occupied positions of power, but who were soon enough shown the door as insufficiently dedicated to remaking America. Andrews picks her six exemplar boomers to represent six fields—technology, entertainment, economics, academia, politics, and law. She shows how each left an area of American life worse off than it was given to him. One might view them as personifications of six deadly sins, each of whom had a different axis of destruction. Steve Jobs eroded moral virtue, though unlike the others his sins were not intended. Aaron Sorkin, propagandist of our screens, poured poison into the porches of our ears. Jeffrey Sachs, economic imperialist and destroyer of cultural fabrics. Camille Paglia, corrupter of our youth. Al Sharpton, racial grifter. Sonia Sotomayor, racial grievance hustler. These sins are all projects of the Left, of course, but Andrews does not view her subjects, for the most part, through a political lens, but rather through a sociological lens. Regardless, collectively, these types created the putrefying blob that is 2021 America. First on the chopping block is Steve Jobs. At first, I wasn’t sure why Andrews included, and started with, Jobs. But her choice is clever, because she shows an exception can prove the rule, most of all by contrasting Jobs with his worthless successor as head of Apple, Tim Cook. Not that Jobs didn’t exemplify plenty of boomer personality traits, notably grossly excessive self-focus. But her considered conclusion is that “Jobs’s greatest rebellion was against his own generation,” and I think that’s true. “The big difference between Jobs and his fellow boomers comes down to this: they were institution destroyers, and he was an institution builder.” Now, to be fair, I have a personal soft spot for Jobs. Although he was a hugely defective person, he is one of the few business geniuses I recognize. As a successful entrepreneur myself, and a corporate lawyer before that, I have long recognized that almost all high-profile businessmen are in fact nothing special at all. The prototypical example is Jack Welch, but you can pick any modern CEO at random, and realize that any modestly intelligent and competent person could perform the same job just as well or better. Sure, Jobs was often flaky, and frequently acted like an overgrown child, but those are personal defects, not judgments on his achievements. What I also liked about Jobs was his refusal to get sucked into donating money to causes, particularly left-wing causes. As he said of Bill Gates, “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy.” Still, Jobs enabled the vices peddled by the boomers to reach all of us, through the technology he thought would benefit us. Andrews faults Jobs because his creations created a world “that gives free rein to the boomers’ worse vices,” most of all those that destroyed the working classes to benefit the boomers. Jobs effectuated, as Andrews says, “limbic capitalism,” “the redirection of America’s productive energies into inducing and servicing addictions.” Pornography, job instability, drug addiction, gig work, and the fake achievement of video games are the new normal, which seems normal to us, even though any time traveler from the past would immediately see this as the foolery of an society at its end. But creating this wasn’t Jobs’s goal; he simply had an overly optimistic view of human nature—and nobody foresaw that the internet, and the technology that relies on and revolves around it, would be, on balance, very much a net negative for society. This comes into clearest focus when Andrews discusses the boomer who now runs Apple, Cook. He has none of Jobs’s vision; he’s a nasty little bean-counter who sucks up to China while oppressing decent Americans who aren’t coastal elites. Jobs was “a family-obsessed psychological basket case haunted by themes of inheritance and lineage.” But that’s much preferable to Cook, a deracinated, childless homosexual. (As Joseph Schumpeter pointed out about John Maynard Keynes, though Andrews shrinks a bit from endorsing it, homosexuals can have little or no investment in the future.) Cook’s primary goal, other than lining his pockets, is being a “global citizen,” an impossible entity, yet the logical end point of boomer navel-gazing and self-love. Cook has taken what Jobs created and used it to corrode America in ways unimaginable to the Jobs of 1986. Next up is Aaron Sorkin, entertainer. I must admit I know nothing at all about Sorkin. I have never watched a single episode of The West Wing, the show for which Sorkin is famous. My impression has long been that show was simply a standard piece of left-wing agitprop. Andrews seems to disagree, yet all the specific examples she gives about the show merely strongly confirm my impression. Television was, we know, the boomers’ main vehicle for distributing poison to destroy the strong culture that America had in 1960, a project that continues today. Certainly, most television, especially television news, is unwatchable for anyone with any intelligence—when it is not overt lies, which is most of the time, it is cultural propaganda directed at Left ends. Even the few decent shows, such as The Expanse, are filled with propaganda. Andrews paints Sorkin as a type of ingénue, unable to grasp how most Americans, especially conservative ones, think, yet trying to understand. I think that’s false. I think Sorkin is a prototypical boomer propagandist, one of many active agents of American destruction, all of whom should be beaten with chains and sentenced to perpetual silence for their sins. But we can all get behind Andrews’s next target, Jeffrey Sachs. Again, I’ve never paid much attention to Sachs, even though he floated around the edges of my own life tied to Eastern Europe and as a young corporate drone in the 1990s. As Andrews deftly outlines, he made an entire career out of destroying other societies through his economic advice as a “development economist.” He started with Poland, wrecking it and handing decades-long ascendance to the former Communists who looted the country (whose power was only recently put down by the awesome Law and Justice Party), and then “he did what every great man does when he is overwhelmed by hubris. He decided to go to Russia.” There he became tangled in, and indirectly participated in, the web of corruption that nearly destroyed that country. Hitting the eject button, he next went to Africa, and ruined countries there, through involvement in the United Nations’s Millennium Villages program. Sachs was earlier ably pilloried by William Easterly, whom Andrews discusses—although she doesn’t endorse Easterly either, with his overly Hayekian, libertarian approach. Ironically in a way, given Strachey as her model, she endorses the Victorians, the colonialists. After all, with maybe some very rare exceptions, the colonized were never better off than under colonialism—something that I am certain will get even more true as the world spins apart over the next decade or two, returning those sections of the world now totally dependent on Western handouts to the barbarism from which they came. Camille Paglia is chosen to represent academia. I can’t decide if this is an inspired or cramped choice, given that of all the six areas Andrews examines, academia is today the closest to a singularity of cretinhood, with tens of thousands of possible choices for sinners, many more academically mainstream. Andrews’s criticisms of Paglia are less related to the academy, although Paglia’s superficiality and repetition do characterize the academy, and more related to her greatly contributing, under the guise of iconoclasm against the Left, to the destruction of culture. This included the mainstreaming of pornography, which has turned out, along with the culture of contraception, to be a disaster of the first order. The boomers caused this; they normalized obscenity and made it impossible to prohibit, through their control of the courts. Andrews ties this degradation to the degrading of culture more generally; there was high culture and folk culture; now there is only pop culture, and Paglia was instrumental, or at least highly visible, in this process as well. I think it began long before Paglia, though. But it doesn’t really matter; we can all agree that American culture today, if one can even use the term, is a sink of turpitude. Al Sharpton exemplifies the boomer belief in transformational, rather than transactional, politics. He combines this with being a greasy, lying shakedown artist. Andrews seems to have a grudging respect for Sharpton; I suppose the same kind of respect one has for a slick con man you see performing a con on someone else. Of course, as Andrews does somewhat more than hint at, Sharpton and all the other supposed black leaders among the boomers have actually made the average black American worse off. Far worse off. Yes, a thin crust of black people have made it to the professional-managerial elite, in part due to opportunities formerly closed now being open, in part due to various forms of extortion, either using threats or appeals to the supposed need for remedies for past wrongs to obtain handouts. Most black people today in America, though, are far worse off, relatively speaking in economic terms, and, as far as family and social structure go, absolutely speaking, than they were in 1960. Andrews pulls few punches here, nor should she . . . [Review completes as first comment.]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    Well, let this be a lesson to me about checking stuff out blind on Libby. This is pretty bad and I would have at least been prepared for it if I’d read up on Andrews’ bio ahead of time. At best, some of these profiles have a “the boomers are a land of contrasts” pointlessness to them. Many of them are less profiles or a generational observation, and more of an excuse for Andrews to wander off on tangents about vaguely liberal ideas or elite institutions she doesn’t care for. For example, the ide Well, let this be a lesson to me about checking stuff out blind on Libby. This is pretty bad and I would have at least been prepared for it if I’d read up on Andrews’ bio ahead of time. At best, some of these profiles have a “the boomers are a land of contrasts” pointlessness to them. Many of them are less profiles or a generational observation, and more of an excuse for Andrews to wander off on tangents about vaguely liberal ideas or elite institutions she doesn’t care for. For example, the idea of doing a critical profile of someone like Al Sharpton is fair enough, but she uses it as a jumping off point for an ode to machine politics and criticism of desegregation implementation (some of which does become straight-up racist apologist nonsense). My favorite instance of the books consistent “good point followed by a bonkers takeaway” pattern is when Andrews argues that programs to increase community college enrollment may end up doing more to entrench over-credentialing of the workforce than raising education or intellectual levels (interesting, tell me more). She follows this with an assertion that the true problem is that boomers abandoned church as a no-cost place to ponder the big questions (?!?!). In short, this is a bad book you shouldn’t read, but I will finish it out of morbid curiosity since she seems to get worse and, as noted above, more racist as she goes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rev

    Having seen excerpts of this book being passed around on Twitter it lulled me in thinking it would be a lot deeper than it actually is and thus worth starting the year with. The title might trick you into believing that this is a neutral doorstopper chronicling the legacy of America's most greedy and narcissistic generation in detail. It is not; it's a piece of American far-right propaganda that might as well replace the BOOMERS in the title with LIBERALS, considering that the author rails again Having seen excerpts of this book being passed around on Twitter it lulled me in thinking it would be a lot deeper than it actually is and thus worth starting the year with. The title might trick you into believing that this is a neutral doorstopper chronicling the legacy of America's most greedy and narcissistic generation in detail. It is not; it's a piece of American far-right propaganda that might as well replace the BOOMERS in the title with LIBERALS, considering that the author rails against everyone and everything related to Democrats and nothing else. Ironically, at one point in the book she quotes a commie saying something about how religion is like a nail, and goes in deeper the more you mess with it. Maybe Andrews should listen to herself and try to be unbiased in her work and look at both sides equally, instead of whipping the liberals relentlessly until she causes the reader to feel for them as underdogs. Still, being propaganda does not necessarily discredit anything. Plenty of pamphlets still swell hearts today. But it's also the unfortunate case that this book offers nothing when judged on its merits as propaganda either. No attempt is made to appear transparent or persuade a person that might have a differing view. Maybe a few lefties would be tricked into picking this up thinking it's something else, but they will see right through it within a couple of pages. It's really just self-indulgent dreck written by a person that's trying to take advantage of readers that share her worldview and sell product. Again, ironically, since so much of this book is intended to discredit pop culture, yet this is more superficial than your average pop-science/history release. Way, way worse. Most of all, though, this just feels lazy and rushed. For example, I am not American nor passionate in the slightest about Steve Jobs and his products, yet I found myself familiar with most of the things she mentions. When the section came to a close, I was actually wondering what the hell it was that I read. When I purchase a book it's done in the hopes that it's going to be a little more insightful than, say, a podcast about the topic. But the level of information is exactly what you'd expect to get from an author as he presents a summary of his book during a podcast, with the hopes that you will buy it to get a full, detailed picture. On the other hand, it also makes so many references to past events that if you are, say, a teen reading this without any knowledge of American politics and world history, then it would be impenetrable. If this book is meant for a learned audience, then you should put the required effort and give them something fresh. If it's not that, if this is just an entry-level work on the level of a quick video essay, then maybe take a moment to explain who people like Abbie Hoffman are or cut them out entirely. This is the worst of both worlds: not much to gain if you're an informed reader, and deeply confusing if you're totally ignorant. Another thing about this book that I hate is that it does a lot of begging the question. The author is a complete pussy that never delivers the point she's moving towards in a dignified way. She has an entire chapter on Al Sharpton which is basically an extreme demonization of Blacks in America, so bad that I'd say it enters the realm of parody. But at no point does she tell you that what she's for is returning to segregation, or perhaps doing away with the Black population entirely. Like a coward, she'll just cherrypick whatever sways most highly emotive readers and leaves it to them to draw the conclusion. But what should help you make up your mind about whether or not you want to read this is the level of stupidity displayed by the author herself on another occasion. Just in the first few minutes of a podcast I was listening to out of curiosity to see what she sounds and looks like (Realignment, episode 88), Andrew stated falsehoods of such magnitude that even an enthusiast of ancient history would bristle, let alone a trained historian. Andrews states: "Looking at different civilizations throughout history, there have been others that liberated women just as much as we do today. Where women were held in the same esteem as men in public affairs, [they] were allowed to hold jobs - they were very equal in the senses we think of as important today. But the anthropological fact is that societies that make women equal in that way tend to also, at the same time, devalue the family. In other words, the more equal women are, in terms of competing with men, the less your society cares about motherhood, and, you know, children belonging to their parents, they just kind of denigrate the family. Sparta is the classic example. You know, they had women warriors in Sparta, and nobody gave a damn whose kid anybody was because they didn't care about the family." I get that to a person that knows no history, this might seem like nothing. But when you do know history, hearing a person speak so authoritatively about an issue they clearly know nothing about should give you cause for concern. It's like having a guy trying to sell you energy drinks starting out by saying water is bad for you. First of all, there were no societies that liberated women as they are today. None. But more hilarious than that is that she says SPARTA is the classic example of female warriors and devaluing the family. Classic, huh? That's funny. It's certainly true that Spartans gave more freedom to women than Athenians. And it's also true that unlike Athenians, Spartans made a point of offering physical education to their women as well. However, these women were not "warriors" nor were they expected to fight in on the battlefield or participate in affairs of state. The women were just expected to be competent enough to stay at home with the elders and children and do what needs doing in the case of emergency. And since they ruled over helots (slaves), they were essentially minor overseers on these estates. There were no female hoplites. Women were never a part of the gerousia (the council of elders advising the kings), nor did queens hold any authority in ruling. The second part about them not valuing family is also laughable, since it's perhaps the only thing they did value. Babies that showed signs of weakness were indeed disposed of - that isn't just a myth - since the more strong boys you added to the society, the more respect you were granted as a male. Some historians believe that the obsession with eugenics and perfecting the Spartan "race" is what dwindled their numbers and led to their eventual demise from the center stage of ancient politics. It's very hard to imagine how a society that in fact put almost all of its emphasis in the family and child-rearing has anything resembling Andrews' schizophrenia about them, let alone being any "classic example." In short, Andrews has no clue what she's saying. ZERO. And if she can speak so authoritatively on a topic she clearly knows nothing about, why would you trust anything that comes out of this woman's mouth? So you can double-check each time and see how she's either misrepresenting the facts or outright lying about them? I did get one surprise at the end of the book, which was seeing Curtis Yarvin namedropped (who actually goes by "Moldbug" so the omission of his persona is very much intentional), a cringelord extraordinaire who is known for writing blogs where he only manages to express himself by appealing to Star War, time and time again. A guy deeply devoted to Israel and explicit use of force against citizenry, who thinks it would be "easier" if Palestinians were just genocided so life can just carry on already. And he would do it while justifying it with Sith philosophy or some stupid shit. The kind of deranged loser living out his perversions in a fantasy headspace that gives all zionists a bad name. And this is the man Andrews gives thanks to. But I gotta say, there's something hilarious about writing a book where you shit on pop culture when you're palling around with and giving thanks to a manchild that never advanced past children's movies. Oddly characteristic of the American Right - pretend to care about literature while you really only obsess over Star Wars and superhero crap. Are Democrats bad? Of course, they're soulless husks- so are Republicans. Buy this book if what you want to spend time on is reading some ugly trollop's glorified blog posts. If not, there are more informative pundits on YouTube, and you can watch those for free.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mason Masters

    This is not academic. This is not a deep dive into every fault of the Boomers as shown by data and analysis. This is rhetoric, plain and simple. Every chapter looks at the life of a famous Boomer, and how they do or do not exemplify that generation. It's not a typical approach, but it's one that works perfectly. There are so many zingers in this text that it works as pure entertainment, but it also levels some serious charges. Highly recommend. This is not academic. This is not a deep dive into every fault of the Boomers as shown by data and analysis. This is rhetoric, plain and simple. Every chapter looks at the life of a famous Boomer, and how they do or do not exemplify that generation. It's not a typical approach, but it's one that works perfectly. There are so many zingers in this text that it works as pure entertainment, but it also levels some serious charges. Highly recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dallin

    At times insightful, at times frustrating, always provocative, and easily the best written book I’ve read this year. The prose style is blistering.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Duffy

    I wrote a full length review of this book here. Check it: https://theamericansun.com/2021/02/02... I wrote a full length review of this book here. Check it: https://theamericansun.com/2021/02/02...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    An expose on perhaps the most selfish, narcissistic, amoral generation in history, this is a series of portraits of six well known Baby Boomers from technology, academia, entertainment, law, international development, and politics. The chapter of Jeffrey Sachs was a bit tedious and at times hard to follow, but otherwise Helen Andrews's depiction of her subjects was as vivid as it was compelling. Andrews, herself a Millennial, writes beautifully and convincingly in her critique of a generation tha An expose on perhaps the most selfish, narcissistic, amoral generation in history, this is a series of portraits of six well known Baby Boomers from technology, academia, entertainment, law, international development, and politics. The chapter of Jeffrey Sachs was a bit tedious and at times hard to follow, but otherwise Helen Andrews's depiction of her subjects was as vivid as it was compelling. Andrews, herself a Millennial, writes beautifully and convincingly in her critique of a generation that has upended traditions and norms, mostly for its own sake, and has bequeathed upon it successors a legacy of a country left in tatters and teetering on the brink of destroying much of what what it special and desirable in the first place. For me, the most fascinating essays were about the two women profiled in the book: Camille Paglia and Sonia Sotomayor. The former is a radical liberal feminist lesbian who advocated pop culture and detracted from the classics, although she herself had been trained in the likes of Milton, Rosseau, and many others. Instead, Paglia became an ardent promoter of sex, pornography, prostitution, and sundry other associated shifts away from traditional notions of modesty and propriety. As a result, many universities now offer PhDs in pop culture and academics are increasingly unmoored from classical western knowledge and we are beginning to see the results in a highly fractured society hyperfocused on intersectionality and victimhood rather than reason. Paglia succeeded Susan Sontag as the preeminent female public intellectual. Paglia is complex figure, and has incurred wrath for insisting that women liberated by the sexual revolution are equals, not victims, in the sexual escapades that have increased over the years. The author argues that in being cancelled, she is suffering the consequences of her own making. Sonia Sotomayor, of course, is Obama's first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Helen Andrews describes her as a bully, which of course she is. Example after example bear out how Sotomayor uses the law to cower her opponents into submission, whether it be as an undergraduate insisting on more Latino faculty and staff, to Yale Law where she complained about recruiters who questioned the legitimacy of those promoted by affirmative action, to her years on courts in which her legal reasoning is often rooted in her identity as a "wise latina" whose race and gender supposedly bestow her with gifts of superiority over men or those from inferior races. As a result of this kind of reasoning among judges of her generation, activism has overtaken the judiciary and produced a growing backlash among the polity. Through each essay, the author captures the zeitgeist of the Boomer generation -- unapologetically proud of the havoc wreaked upon society. Models of broken marriages and homes, selfish pursuits of individualism and greed, insistence upon right for ever increasingly fractious identity traits, Boomers have managed to destroy much of what America got right in history, and leave a society less stable, less prosperous, less cohesive, and less promising to the rising generations. Helen Andrews is careful to give credit where it is due (e.g., Steven Jobs has transformed the world with his iPhone, although he largely rebelled against his own generation to do it, and Al Sharpton remains an effective transformational leader even if it is transactional leaders who are best equipped to effect change through nuts and bolts politicking in a diverse society). Nevertheless, I relished and savored this book for giving the Boomers their due for the harm they have left us without remorse. I look forward to reading more from Helen Andrews in the future.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Vague ramblings that remind me of the Soviet nomenklatura scrambling to look disident once the regime was down. Of course Andrews is not going to upset the establishment. The evil is Jobs that hired industrial designers and none of the long list of Presidents that bombed distant lands so the public won't hear about their affairs. The evil is Sacks who promoted products and not the long list of Ministers that make the public buy whatever the political lobby asks - they call that subventions and a Vague ramblings that remind me of the Soviet nomenklatura scrambling to look disident once the regime was down. Of course Andrews is not going to upset the establishment. The evil is Jobs that hired industrial designers and none of the long list of Presidents that bombed distant lands so the public won't hear about their affairs. The evil is Sacks who promoted products and not the long list of Ministers that make the public buy whatever the political lobby asks - they call that subventions and as they come from the taxes, it is the general public that actually buys the food that won't sell. So yea, Andrews is a simple mind and its simple thoughts.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Bateman

    acerbic, concisely-written essays about the boomer archetypes responsible for "the way we live now." regardless of whether one disagrees with andrews' conclusions, he or she will appreciate the entertaining arrangement of historical material as well as andrews' extraordinary brevity. i've read andrews in first things and elsewhere, been edited by her at TAC even, and applaud her ability to condense large amounts of information into digestible sentences and paragraphs. as a result, the book, seri acerbic, concisely-written essays about the boomer archetypes responsible for "the way we live now." regardless of whether one disagrees with andrews' conclusions, he or she will appreciate the entertaining arrangement of historical material as well as andrews' extraordinary brevity. i've read andrews in first things and elsewhere, been edited by her at TAC even, and applaud her ability to condense large amounts of information into digestible sentences and paragraphs. as a result, the book, serious though its charges against the boomers might be, can be finished in an afternoon

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gooblebox

    DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK! I have a bone to pick Jeffrey Sachs, so I truly read this book with an open mind. Unfortunately, this book is shoddily researched and poorly written, and Helen Andrews is intellectually dishonest and borderline racist. Check out the chosen targets of her critique--all the classic foils of Conservative propaganda : Justice Sotomayor (Latina), Al Sharpton (Black), Steve Jobs (Half-Arab Californian), Aaron Sorkin (Jewish), Jeff Sachs (Jewish), Camille Paglia (Feminist). Really, DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK! I have a bone to pick Jeffrey Sachs, so I truly read this book with an open mind. Unfortunately, this book is shoddily researched and poorly written, and Helen Andrews is intellectually dishonest and borderline racist. Check out the chosen targets of her critique--all the classic foils of Conservative propaganda : Justice Sotomayor (Latina), Al Sharpton (Black), Steve Jobs (Half-Arab Californian), Aaron Sorkin (Jewish), Jeff Sachs (Jewish), Camille Paglia (Feminist). Really, Helen? You couldn't at least pretend to be unbiased by throwing in the Enron guys or something?! This is a classic attempt by an author attempting to latch on to zeitgeist to peddle propaganda. The Boomer generation, like every generation, is worthy of critique and analysis, sure. But this mediocre author was fast-tracked by publishers to capitalize on the OK-Boomer meme, all part of the frantic attempt to muddy the water with both-sides-ism so as to distract from how Conservatives are terrible at governing by most conceivable measures. Just check out the other reviews on this site, the people who love this book aren't as subtle as Helen: “After all, with maybe some very rare exceptions, the colonized were never better off than under colonialism—something that I am certain will get even more true as the world spins apart over the next decade or two, returning those sections of the world now totally dependent on Western handouts to the barbarism from which they came.” -Charles Haywood, Review of 'Boomers', Feb 03, 2021 JUST, WOW... LIKE, WOW. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I never thought that I’d have a least favorite book, and yet... here we are.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teaghan

    Helen Andrews is always fun to read and is always willing to make arguments no one else will in the smartest and fairest way possible. This book is no exception. I only wish she could've been given more room to explore these people and ideas more - the book feels slightly underbaked, but I suspect the blame there lies less with the writer and more on the constraints placed by the modern publishing industry that prefers publishing shallow and slapdash work. Helen Andrews is always fun to read and is always willing to make arguments no one else will in the smartest and fairest way possible. This book is no exception. I only wish she could've been given more room to explore these people and ideas more - the book feels slightly underbaked, but I suspect the blame there lies less with the writer and more on the constraints placed by the modern publishing industry that prefers publishing shallow and slapdash work.

  14. 5 out of 5

    SalvatoreBehst

    Generations are a total social construct, made by marketing professionals & people looking for a horoscope replacement. Pew research only does them because it gets them clicks. Social scientist usually do decade (or some arbitrary interval) cohort analysis because patterns don't come in a neatly packed (or not neatly packaged? as generations have arbitrary start and end dates Boomer 18 X 16 Y 15 Z 15). The other is a context-based cohort analysis (e.g. children of great depression, digital nativ Generations are a total social construct, made by marketing professionals & people looking for a horoscope replacement. Pew research only does them because it gets them clicks. Social scientist usually do decade (or some arbitrary interval) cohort analysis because patterns don't come in a neatly packed (or not neatly packaged? as generations have arbitrary start and end dates Boomer 18 X 16 Y 15 Z 15). The other is a context-based cohort analysis (e.g. children of great depression, digital natives, post 9-11 schools, great recession graduates). Why don't they do it? - irregular categories without justification (Pew has found that people don't know what generation there from, only 40% of millennial actually know their millennial, why are the Williams sisters a generation apart?) - not actual generations - promotes stereotyping and clickbait confirmation bias (which is probably why people buy this book ) - sacrifice info with potential benefit (a finer tuned analysis of maybe 5-10 year birth cohort intervals can find vastly different and contradictory patterns then what a generation birth cohort interval would suggest) You will notice the arbitrariness as you read, she says correctly that boomer is 1945-1964 but on the same page she contradicts herself, implying that Bob Dylan is the ultimate boomer (born 1941!). One pattern you notice throughout the book is a pattern you will be noticing if you don't stick to generations, namely that early boomers (and late silent generation) have more of the power then the late ones. she says "Each passing decade of the twentieth century has been defined by what the boomers were doing during it: watching TV in the suburbs in the 1950s; rocking and rebelling in the 1960s taking things too far in the 1970s; buckling down and making money in the 1980s." If you were born in 1964 (which is again a total arbitrary end date) you wouldn't experience the 1950s, you would be max 6 during the rock & roll generation, you would be a kid in 70s and start your adult life not "buckle down" in the 1980s. She is talking about the people born in the 40s, "early boomers", who you will notice have much more power then the late. life course perspective is useful not generational analysis, cohort thinking is good but needs to be improved (e.g decade cohort analysis) not dumb generations. Ive noticed this appalling trend over the years where old people and young people are taken out of our vocabulary despite them being perennial concepts. Now their called Boomers and gen Z / Zoomer. And it starts bad trend of stereotyping & strange horoscope analysis. She says "it would be hard to convince an impartial observer that boomer feminism has left women better off when one in five white women are on antidepressants" Couldn't this be instead the psychiatric industry? I don't think feminist like this trend. "boomers" get all the bad but didn't they also start a massive evangelical / fundamentalist movement? Which is a positive if your a Paleocon, but I don't see any credit is given to them here.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Zell

    It is normal to be critical of and disappointed with decisions of a previous generation. But, Andrews gives voice to a critique that is much stronger than disappointment. Andrews is a millennial. She argues that the hopes and promises of the Boomer generation have fallen flat. And, because of these decisions, America is not better for Boomer's efforts. The Millennials now have to contend with a different set of resources because of the Boomer choices. Millenials do not have the same opportunity It is normal to be critical of and disappointed with decisions of a previous generation. But, Andrews gives voice to a critique that is much stronger than disappointment. Andrews is a millennial. She argues that the hopes and promises of the Boomer generation have fallen flat. And, because of these decisions, America is not better for Boomer's efforts. The Millennials now have to contend with a different set of resources because of the Boomer choices. Millenials do not have the same opportunity for success and prosperity; Nor do they have the same institutions from which Boomers built upon. Andrews blames these on the Boomers. In general, I do not care for these kinds of broad generalizations about a particular generation. However, I think the way in which Andrews makes her argument has merit. She takes her broad characterization of Boomers into the life and career choices of six influential boomers. Using the model of Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians, Andrews focuses on Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin, Jeffrey Sachs, Camille Paglia, Al Sharpton, and Sonia Sotomayor. From these figures, Andrews sees decadence in the making through the focus on "me" and "I" to the exclusion of the greater community; economic globalization; confrontational politics and its failures; the dumbing down of education; sexual promiscuity; further breakdown of the family; the rise of visual and verbal obscenity, elevation of popular culture; and entitlements. I came away from this book glad that I read it, but not convinced that our current cultural state lay completely at the choices of the Boomer generation. In a few more years, a younger generation will start to write about the Millennials and their accomplishments and defeats. What will the next generation say about them?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Andrews provides a critique of the Boomer generation through the lens of 6 figures(Jobs, Sharpton, Paglia, Sorkin, Sachs, and Sotomayor) from various fields and illustrates how they fit into their generation's aspirations and follies. Through her analysis you come to realize two separate realizations: the Boomer generation had effect through population figures but not through leading figures in all fields. Although Jobs and Sharpton held major impact to this day Sachs and Sotomayor pale in compa Andrews provides a critique of the Boomer generation through the lens of 6 figures(Jobs, Sharpton, Paglia, Sorkin, Sachs, and Sotomayor) from various fields and illustrates how they fit into their generation's aspirations and follies. Through her analysis you come to realize two separate realizations: the Boomer generation had effect through population figures but not through leading figures in all fields. Although Jobs and Sharpton held major impact to this day Sachs and Sotomayor pale in comparisons to Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Greenspan from older generations. Sachs and Sotomayor influence was through the world run by Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Greenspan. Maybe Kagan and Summers would have been better illustrations of Boomers influence over time. Kagan writes the most complex judicial briefs on the left and Summers influence is strong today if maybe waning in economic policy circles. Never heard of Paglia before last week which maybe more of a reflection of age versus her impact on culture. Andrews provides delightful reading and her narrative allows the reader to reflect upon their own encounter with the Boomer world while trying to provide an assessment of the leading Boomers.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Glae R. Egoville

    An honest point of view Helen Andrews has written the most honest assessment of the effect Baby Boomers have had on just about everything in America. It is NOT a flattering book. But it is, in my opinion, an honest one. I am a Boomer and have been increasingly concerned about the chaos the " sex, drugs and rock and roll" culture my generation embraced. We thought the world was ours to mold to our non specific ideas, not ideals, there were none. Some of us were heirs to the hard work and careful p An honest point of view Helen Andrews has written the most honest assessment of the effect Baby Boomers have had on just about everything in America. It is NOT a flattering book. But it is, in my opinion, an honest one. I am a Boomer and have been increasingly concerned about the chaos the " sex, drugs and rock and roll" culture my generation embraced. We thought the world was ours to mold to our non specific ideas, not ideals, there were none. Some of us were heirs to the hard work and careful planning of our parents. This made our lives easier and we passed on entitlement, which has made the current generation very hard to take and very angry. Our hubris was appalling but theirs is worse because they are scared. They espouse " giving back" because they think that gives them superiority over the Boomers who wanted good lives for themselves and their families.. The divide is ugly . Most Boomers are happy we won't be around to see what this faithless, ,selfish, smug crew thinks up for their world. But I wish them luck.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jared Bennett

    I can see how many will feel this is less about the boomers than a complaint about society's current state. While each chapter is named after an individual, Andrews drifts far away from each person. It's an interesting concept using synecdoche to structure the work. Each person represents a part of the whole, whatever it is that this generation of Boomers left behind. The best point I got from the book is that Boomers chased after freedom by acting out rebellion in their youth. The Boomers promise I can see how many will feel this is less about the boomers than a complaint about society's current state. While each chapter is named after an individual, Andrews drifts far away from each person. It's an interesting concept using synecdoche to structure the work. Each person represents a part of the whole, whatever it is that this generation of Boomers left behind. The best point I got from the book is that Boomers chased after freedom by acting out rebellion in their youth. The Boomers promised freedom from the past, whether it be technology, politics, etc. Millennials, who often ridicule Boomers and blame them for everything that is wrong with the world, share more in common with Boomers than they realize, expect unlike the Boomers, the Millennials don't have the luxury of strong institutions to withstand the cultural revolutions we are experiencing to fall back upon once we are done with burning everything we scapegoat to the ground.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kim Mcclung

    I really enjoyed this book, even though I am a baby boomer! The authors assertion that the baby boomer generation is one of the most dreadful ever, is one that I have suspected for a long time, mainly a consequence of my experiences with millennials in the work place, and wondering to myself, "Who raised these people? Did their parents ever say "no" to them? Do they really believe all those participation awards they got are really worth anything?" Naturally, the baby boomer generation is painted I really enjoyed this book, even though I am a baby boomer! The authors assertion that the baby boomer generation is one of the most dreadful ever, is one that I have suspected for a long time, mainly a consequence of my experiences with millennials in the work place, and wondering to myself, "Who raised these people? Did their parents ever say "no" to them? Do they really believe all those participation awards they got are really worth anything?" Naturally, the baby boomer generation is painted with a broad brush here, and the book is more a clever, snarky and funny diatribe than a rigid sociological study. Likewise, the brief biological sketches are more an opportunity to digress than dig deep into each personality. Nevertheless, I recommend this as great entertainment with some nuggets of truth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan Walker

    Initially I was skeptical of the premise (the Boomers didn't have it all gloriously handed to them: the great disrupter of the draft/misinformation/misdirected missions/Vietnam War), selection of the six examples (there were so many why-nots: Oprah Winfrey/Paul Krugman/Virginia Rometty/Condi Rice etc.), and then there was the style in which at first I was lost from the wandering trajectory, but then I settled down for the ride and by the end could only applaud and say, "Let me read more from thi Initially I was skeptical of the premise (the Boomers didn't have it all gloriously handed to them: the great disrupter of the draft/misinformation/misdirected missions/Vietnam War), selection of the six examples (there were so many why-nots: Oprah Winfrey/Paul Krugman/Virginia Rometty/Condi Rice etc.), and then there was the style in which at first I was lost from the wandering trajectory, but then I settled down for the ride and by the end could only applaud and say, "Let me read more from this Helen Andrews". As a Boomer who was raised with religion my personal experience with the church (Southern Baptist) not leading the way in desegregation revealed the hypocrisy of not practicing what you preach. I could never forgive this and as a result my millennial children don't have a religious foundation, although unlike in the cited survey I would hope they could identify Moses.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samuel James

    I have a simple rule: if Helen Andrews writes it, I read it. Helen is a phenomenal essayist and this book is delightfully punchy. To the end that Helen shows how cultural orthodoxies shared by a handful of elites can shape a society, the book succeeds as an insightful and often cringe inducing catalog of the Boomer failure. But generational criticisms have weaknesses, and the book will likely only appeal to readers pre programmed to agree with Helen’s politics. A well written homily to the choir I have a simple rule: if Helen Andrews writes it, I read it. Helen is a phenomenal essayist and this book is delightfully punchy. To the end that Helen shows how cultural orthodoxies shared by a handful of elites can shape a society, the book succeeds as an insightful and often cringe inducing catalog of the Boomer failure. But generational criticisms have weaknesses, and the book will likely only appeal to readers pre programmed to agree with Helen’s politics. A well written homily to the choir.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Josiane Stratis

    First, I thought wow a nice light reading that makes you laugh a little bit about the generational differences between Boomer and Millennials. I was reading with a smile. Until the conservative petticoat went over the author's head and she attributed racism to the fault of the oppressed. Often I thought she was paraphrasing what a person was saying when she was just giving her opinion based on her perception of events in a person's life. The form of the essay is correct, it is the content that i First, I thought wow a nice light reading that makes you laugh a little bit about the generational differences between Boomer and Millennials. I was reading with a smile. Until the conservative petticoat went over the author's head and she attributed racism to the fault of the oppressed. Often I thought she was paraphrasing what a person was saying when she was just giving her opinion based on her perception of events in a person's life. The form of the essay is correct, it is the content that is absolutely based on nothing but the views of the author. Such great potential so poorly expressed. At least I took it in the electronic version and I could exchange it for another one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Lee

    a very intelligent and engaging book about how Americans in the boomer generation have influenced the shape of current (American) society, culture, and politics. i thought the chapter on al sharpton was particularly noteworthy in how thoroughly it explores the fallout of 60s liberation movements in the US and how this fallout ended up being profitable in the 21st-century for opportunistic 'boomers' within the movement. a very intelligent and engaging book about how Americans in the boomer generation have influenced the shape of current (American) society, culture, and politics. i thought the chapter on al sharpton was particularly noteworthy in how thoroughly it explores the fallout of 60s liberation movements in the US and how this fallout ended up being profitable in the 21st-century for opportunistic 'boomers' within the movement.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A critical survey of the Boomer generation told through several sketches covering figures in tech, entertainment, philanthropy, academia, activism, and law. Andrews primarily drafts their legacy and the cultural dynamics around their lives, not their lives parse. I gave it an extra star for pissing off so many people. Helen hit the mark she was aiming at.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Herring

    Patterned after Strachey’s Eminent Victorians, the author skewers Boomers who failed where previous generations succeeded. We Boomers have apparently flopped with a thud, raising insolent children who are mainly privileged, entitled, and weltering in victimhood. A bit harsh but has the ring of truth.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    This is a very current and relevant book that focuses on 6 boomers, people born between 1945 and 1964 of which I am one. After reading this, I would agree that the boomers have left behind a dismal legacy. We will never be known as The Greatest Generation Part 2 but I have even less hope in the next generation of millennials claiming that title.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Schneider

    Insightful and Entertaining Rare is the generation that can squander so much as the Boomers have. This wonderful work chronicles how much damage the Baby Boomers have inflicted upon their country in a manner worthy of great praise. A must read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Blech.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    My only complaint is that it's too short. My only complaint is that it's too short.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John Chalus

    Very easy read. Informative and eye opening.

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