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

P.J. O’Rourke. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2197-4

Prolific political and social commentator O’Rourke, author of 17 books, including the bestselling Parliament of Whores, has created here a thoughtful portrait of the baby boomer generation and what its members have done for the American way of life, and “the way we talked everybody into letting us get away with it.” While O’Rourke acknowledges that sweeping generalizations about millions of Americans do not always apply, he seems to feel comfortable enough standardizing boomers at large as creatures of self-interest, hypocrisy, and hysteria. But even while discussing annual income and per capita GDP, O’Rourke maintains the dry wit that makes every chapter a delight, even if the picture they form is incomplete. The hilarity is helped along by plenty of anecdotes from his own life as a boomer, including the tale of when O’Rourke’s underground newspaper was occupied overnight by Balto-Cong radicals. As a cultural analyst, O’Rourke’s ability and willingness to simultaneously lampoon and celebrate himself and his generation are unequaled. (Jan.)