THE WORST YEARS OF OUR LIVES: An Outsider's View of the Eighties by Barbara Ehrenreich
Kirkus Star

THE WORST YEARS OF OUR LIVES: An Outsider's View of the Eighties

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Smart, funny, and incisive essays--most reprinted from New York Woman, Ms., etc.--on the follies of the Reagan/Bush era; by the author of Fear of Falling (1989), The Hearts of Men (1983), etc. Exercise is the yuppie version of bulimia. White-collar workers stay at the office until late in order to lull the blue-collar population into believing they work, too. Women who bemoan the lack of marriageable men but fail to notice the wealth of available lower-income bachelors are victims of a self-defeating class snobbery. Such are the secrets imparted with wit and style by this tough-minded suburban radical firmly ensconced in a proud family tradition of dissent--a trait that has taken quite a beating lately, she points out in her introductory essay, though it was once viewed as an integral, even defining, American attribute. She suggests in ""Food Worship"" that widespread insecurity surrounding economic and class status is what has sent Americans fleeing into the welcoming arms of mass conformity where, instructed by Esquire and Madison Avenue, they dutifully down pounds of baby bass en croute in an effort to outclass their competitors to the next corporate rung. On the other hand, she asks in ""Strategies of Corporate Women,"" what does it mean to get a corporate promotion? Is there substance (beyond personal advancement) to corporate success, ""say, a transcendent commitment to producing a better widget?"" If not, it's no wonder that beneath the Filofax/gourmet meal/Republican veneer of the Eighties there's a growing, if still vague, sense that something vital is missing. Well honed and, for the most part, still timely, Ehrenreich's darts have an uncanny instinct for the bull's-eye.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1990
Publisher: Pantheon