The Baby Boomby P. J. O’Rourke
A trip down memory lane from one of the most celebrated Baby Boomers of all—a fantastically funny, anecdote-filled portrait of the generation that discovered sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll.
“O’Rourke’s best book ever.” —Christopher Buckley
In The Baby Boom, O’Rourke, born at the peak of the Baby Boom, turns his keen eye on himself and his 75 million accomplices in making America what it is today. With laughter as an analytical tool, he uses his own very average, if sometimes uproarious experiences as a key to his exceptional age cohort. He writes about the way the postwar generation somehow came of age by never quite growing up and created a better society by turning society upside down.
The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way . . . And It Wasn’t My Fault . . . And I’ll Never Do It Again is at once a social history, a group memoir of collectively impaired memory, a hilarious attempt to understand his generation’s messy hilarity, and a celebration of the mess the Baby Boom has made.
“P. J. O’Rourke’s Baby Boom may just be his best book ever. Teems with heart and humor—much of it laugh out loud, or as the post-boomers would say, LOL—as well as with his trademark brilliant social commentary. A terrific American memoir, in tone a beguiling mix of Jean Shepherd and Animal House. In fact, I’m going to revise my prior statement and say flat-out that this is O’Rourke’s best book ever, which is a saying a lot.” —Christopher Buckley, winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and author of fifteen books including Thank You For Smoking
“His simultaneously hilarious and brainy new book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way And It Wasn’t My Fault And I’ll Never Do It Again holds a cracked magnifying glass up to the generation of Americans born between the end of World War II and the early 1960s.Sifting through demographic and economic data and combining the results with generous portions of personal memories, O’Rourke finds much to deplore in the boomer character, but even more to cherish and celebrate.” —Chicago Tribune
“As a cultural analyst, o’Rourke’s ability and willingness to simultaneously lampoon and celebrate himself and his generation are unequaled.” —Publishers Weekly
“A comedic and caustic cautionary tale for future generations—and, for those of us who are Boomers, a nostalgic and hilarious diversion.” —NPR
“Better than an Ed Sullivan marathon, more enjoyable than Beach Boys Radio Weekend, and more fun than cleaning out your parents’ attic, this book is a Boomer’s delight. If your bags are packed for a trip down memory lane, The Baby Boom is a book you’ll want to remember to take with you.” —Spectrum
“Delightfully and devilishly hilarious . . . o’Rourke shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to his witty chronicling of American life.” —Toronto Sun
Board games and card games were for rainy days, and if it looked like the rain was never going to stop, we’d get out Monopoly. Despairing of its page upon page of rules, we’d make our own. This is how both Wall Street investment strategy and Washington economic policy were invented by our generation. We also invented selling “Get Out of Jail Free” cards to the highest bidder.
The 1960s was an era of big thoughts. And yet, amazingly, each of those thoughts could fit on a T-shirt.
Chloe lived in exotic Massapequa, Long Island. I came east by motorcycle with the idea of Chloe riding pillion to a “Woodstock Music and Arts Fair,” which, according to a poster in a record shop back in Yellow Springs, Ohio, was “An Aquarian Exposition” featuring “Three Days of Peace and Music.” I pictured something on the order of a wind-chime sale with evening hootnannies and maybe a surprise guest appearance by Mimi Farina.
There are some things the Baby Boom has done that we’re not proud of. We used up all the weird. It has always been the special prerogative of youth to look and act strange, to alarm and surprise their elders with peculiar dress and manners. Cicero mentioned it. “O tempora! O mores!” So did my mom, although in English. But the Baby Boom exhausted the available supply of peculiar. Weird clothes, we wore them. Weird beards, we grew them. Weird words and phrases, we said them. Weird attitudes, we had them. Thus when it came time for the next generation to alarm and surprise us with their peculiarities they were compelled to pierce their extremities and permanently ink their exposed flesh. That must have hurt. We apologize.
We got jobs. We made money. We spent it on cocaine. Then we made money with junk bonds for leveraged buyouts. Until the LBO market collapsed and the Savings and Loan crisis happened and some of us such as Michael Milken had to go to jail. Then we made money in the dot.com bubble. Hope you’re not still waiting for the Webvan grocery delivery or the chew toy you ordered from Pets.com. Then we made money with sub-prime mortgage lending securitization and collateralized debt obligations. Sorry about the foreclosure. One thing about moving the family back to Mom’s house, she may be getting a little dotty but she still makes a great meatloaf. Now we’ll make money with category-killer smartphone apps.