The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again)

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P.J. O'Rourke's latest. Enough said? Probably, but this post would look pretty lame if I ended things here. I received this book as a Christmas gift from my thoughtful family.

The book's topic is especially appropriate: I, like P.J., am a Baby Boomer. Although our current political positions are roughly similar, we got there by wildly different routes. We grew up in the Midwest (him: Ohio; me: Iowa and Nebraska). We both wound up in New Hampshire (although in very different parts of the state). And he's a wildly successful author, and I'm a computer geek at the University Near Here.

One thing for sure: he consumed a lot more substances along the way.

But, heck, he speaks for me. Why not? Better him than me.

The book is also a memoir, wrapping P.J.'s observations about his generation around tales of his early life. It may be the closest he comes to writing an autobiography, although (as he admits) he's changed nearly all names, times, places, and incidents. But: "Only the most outrageous and unbelievable things in this book are recounted exactly as they happened."

For example, P.J.'s stint working at a Baltimore underground newspaper called Puddles is recounted. Anyone with rudimentary skills at the Google can discover that it was actually named Harry. However: one day the newspaper office was invaded by a local radical group, armed with a List of Demands. The name of the group was the "Balto-Cong"—and the name really was "Balto-Cong". P.J. explains: "It's the one name of any consequence that I haven't changed in this book. How could it be improved?"

As he notes:

That's not to say we're a selfish generation. Selfish means "too concerned with the self," and we're not. Self isn't something we're just, you know, concerned with. We are self.

And appropriately enough, the yarns and observations in this book are self-deprecating. P.J. is not nostalgic or sentimental about our generation. Although some of the observations may only make sense after a couple slugs of good scotch, because that's how they were probably written.

It's tempting to type in a lot more quotes. Instead, I'll point to an excerpt at the WSJ.

Last Modified 2024-01-27 5:43 AM EDT