In This Review

The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way and It Wasn't My Fault and I'll Never Do It Again
The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way and It Wasn't My Fault and I'll Never Do It Again
By P. J. O'Rourke
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014, 272 pp.

O’Rourke has built a career as a comic essayist by skewering the follies, delusions, and narcissism of his own generation, the baby boomers. In this book, in between riffs on boomer absurdities, he gets serious. The result is something like a mash-up of Jerry Seinfeld and Francis Fukuyama. In O’Rourke’s view, the boomers, a frivolous group that can boast of few cultural or intellectual accomplishments, were the first post-historical generation. Born to parents who defeated fascism, contained communism, and laid the foundations for the greatest flowering of mass prosperity in world history, the boomers proceeded to dissipate their inherited social capital on the various self-indulgent fads and amusements that O’Rourke chronicles so well. Yet for all their wastrel ways, O’Rourke argues, the boomers are the future of humankind. Their form of consumer society will conquer the world, and the entire planet will fill up with self-indulgent narcissists. Friedrich Nietzsche would recognize O’Rourke’s portrait of the boomers: they are the first generation of Nietzsche’s “last men.”