THE DEATH OF THE GROWN-UP by Diana West

THE DEATH OF THE GROWN-UP

How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization

KIRKUS REVIEW

Washington Times columnist West offers a bright, readable, often overwrought indictment of a popular culture that keeps Americans in a state of perpetual adolescence.

Post–World War II affluence gave rise to the teen age, with Seventeen’s 1944 launch marking the “end of growing up,” she writes; Americans have idolized youth ever since. In the 1960s, parents and children reversed roles, the counterculture became the establishment and self-restraint vanished, leaving us bereft of refinement, forbearance, civility, decency and other adult virtues. Today, West avers, our shameless, anything-goes culture has us mired in “bestial decadence” and “media-bathed in a red light–district glow of sexual suggestiveness.” Accepting of almost everything, we have become multiculturalists, forgetful of our identity as a Western civilization and unable to recognize, much less act on, the threat of Islamic terrorism. The author gives innumerable examples of youth going to hell in a parent-condoned hand basket, from spring break antics to drunken prom nights, and of adults engaging in juvenile, inappropriate behavior. Simpatico readers will be charmed; many others will nod in agreement that rules and boundaries have eroded in many quarters of American life. From her alarmist subtitle to her vicious attacks on the youth revolt of the 1960s, however, West may be a bit much to take for those on the lookout for shades of gray. Did all Baby Boomers really decide not to grow up? Were the courageous 9/11 firefighters shaped only by adult virtues as opposed to rock culture? Often the author moves from bracing to over the top, demonstrating why a reader of her column once told her to lighten up.

Read at your peril, hippie scum.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-34048-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2007




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