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Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,725 ratings  ·  74 reviews
The phrase radical chic was coined by Tom Wolfe in 1970 when Leonard Bernstein gave a party for the Black Panthers at his duplex apartment on Park Avenue. That incongrous scene is re-created here in high fidelity as is another meeting ground between militant minorities and the liberal white establishment.
Hardcover, 153 pages
Published 1970 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Tom Wolfe, full of snark. Wolfe's best work The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, the early Esquire stories centers on character who he clearly admires. He's often called a great observer, but in truth, he's always been a better king-maker. More and more, Wolfe's tendency is to attack what he doesn't really understand. At this point, he presents himself as an aging, out-of-touch buffoon decrying oral sex and extolling the virtues of the Scotch-Irish.

"Radical Chic" is one of Wolfe's f

Still valid. Still extremely valid. Still so valid that you can see parallels of everything described in the book in regular life. I'm not a new your socialite, but the idea of radical chic applies to most every cause today. I do see group organizers on a regular basis, and they mau-mau as much as ever.
Grandma Sue
I found a hardbound first edition of Radical Chic and Mau Mauing the Flak Catchers in a used-book barn in rural Pennsylvania over the holidays (unfortunately without the cartoonish book jacket). It gave me an opportunity to re-read these two magazine articles, a 130-page snapshot of late 1960s liberal society written in Wolfe's "new journalism" style ("radical" itself). This quick read is such a hoot for anyone who came of age in the '60s. For those younger, it offers a different point-of-view t ...more
Kavitha Rajagopalan
The prejudices are clear - purportedly and expose about the hypocrisies of Upper-East-Side armchair liberalism, the author's voice clearly belongs to the crowd he criticizes. But nonetheless a hilarious, insightful piece of living history.
Jan 27, 2010 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has ever laughed at "Stuff White People Like"
"Radical Chic," the first long-form essay in this book tells the almost-too-good-to-be-true of Leonard Bernstein's soiree for his fellow New York glitterati and several key members of the Black Panther Party at his Park Avenue duplex. Wolfe's tone is about what you would expect. A hilarious, biting take on white guilt and the unbridled hypocrisy (temporarily replacing your long-time black servants with Latino servants so to appear more progressive, e.g.)resulting when revolution becomes fashiona ...more
Had to read this for class too. I think his writing is flamboyent. In terms of content I really enjoyed it. I thought he was really writing about how everyone ignores the working classes. But for class we only discussed craft. Amazing how this style of writing only occurred in the sixties, it's kind of dated that way. If people were to write like this now, well some people do and when they do I find it cloying.
Sir Michael Röhm
Wolfe chronicles the relationship between blacks and whites - specifically, empowered blacks and high-class or governmental "powerful" whites - during the period of the late 60s.

One essay chronicles the brief "radical chic" fad, in which New York intellectuals hosted meetings for groups like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, all laced with Wolfe's typical acid wit and eye for absurdity.

The other essay covers the same period, roughly, in San Francisco, in which ghetto residents organised to
An absolute character assasination of the would be hip, open minded, liberal left wing. Reinforces "the more things change......" This is as true of an indictment today as it was 37 years ago
Jason Ross
Great stuff... Wolfe is a little bit of everything: Gonzo and independent in terms of journalism, satirical and accusatory in his attacks, libertarian and counter-culture in principle.
Tom Wolfe's middle name is Kennerly? Who knew?

Should you read it: yes. Even if it's dated at times Wolfe's writing is insightful, snappy, and often hilarious. It's also a short, blazing fast read.

This is one of many books that I, as a student of nonfiction writing, have had on my shelf for many years, and I'll admit, at times I've pretended I'd read the whole thing, rather than just the first 20 pages.

I finally picked it up, because I just couldn't read only Proust for the whole Summer, I don't
This is a series of vignettes of American culture in the 60's and 70's. I loved Mau-mauing the flak catchers. The flak catchers were government bureaucrats at the interface of public programs for the poor and the actual poor. One local entrepreneur ran a school to teach the biggest, strongest, most aggressive blacks to terrorize (or Mau-Mau) these people and thereby convince the flakies that they were the "natural leaders" of the oppressed community, and would therefore receive the most governme ...more
I mainly borrowed this combined volume for 'The Painted Word', his snark-filled take on the New York modern art scene.

As a student of art history I adored it and time has proved Wolfe's argument about the insular nature of the art world.

I enjoyed the other essays but they seemed a little more dated. I loved reacquainting myself with Wolfe's style.
Okay, technically I read this in a packet in xerox reproduction form as part of an Introduction to Cultural Criticism class, my freshman year of college. I want to re-read this. Living in Oakland makes me want to re-read this, as I feel like I see this being re-enacted in the arts scene here.
I still hate Tom Wolfe.

Radical Chic was stupid; Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers was kind of interesting, but the only reason I finished it was because the whole book was approximately 130 pages long. Shut up, Tom Wolfe.
I don't remember too much of this book, other than reading it very quickly and enjoying it. Wolfe's shorter collections of essays, magazine pieces are all worth the time.
i don't like this that much (which is ok b/c i found it in my parents book collection) but it seems like it might be a good catalyst for some internet research.
great retelling of a fabled party with the black panthers and leonard bernstein. read with soul on ice for a rocking good time!
Sagheer Afzal
This book contains many elements that Tom Wolfe expounded upon in his masterful satire: "Bonfire Of The Vanities' As an insight into the black power movement it does a passable job. But it is too rambling and meanders too much. The last ten pages are very incisive and they provide you with solid reasons that bedevil the black community in America. The self aggrandizing community leaders who catalyse confrontation with the whites for the purposes of securing their own power base, and their thuggi ...more
Geir Ruud
Great storytelling, hilarious description of "white guilt meets black rage", as Time wrote some 40 years ago.
Bruce Zimmerman
I was on a big Wolfe kick, read about four or five of his books. I really enjoyed them
Funny little book of essays lampooning 60s/70s liberalism.
A good laugh. A bit of a drag though.
So dated...and yet timely.
Wolfe is a smart-aleck.
My best friend's mother gave this to me a few years ago for Christmas or my birthday, with a note saying "Dated but hilarious. Enjoy!" I will say that it is OH-SO VERY DATED YES, and it *is* funny (though generally not in a laugh-out-loud kind of way, at least for me), particularly if you're into cringe comedy. Now, I like both Louie and Girls (two masterpieces of cringe comedy), but I do have an upper limit. And in the cases of both of those shows, the author of the piece is not standing outsid ...more
Elliot Ratzman
In the late 1960s, wealthy New Yorkers—parvenus Jews and old-money WASPs alike—found it fashionable to raise money for radical causes. Wolfe calls it “Radical Chic” and “the radical part began with the simple fact that the movement was not tax deductible,” culminating in Leonard Bernstein’s famous party for the Black Panthers in his Manhattan home. (“These are no civil-rights Negroes wearing grey suits three sizes too big.”) Wolfe, who I assume was at these parties, gloriously details the clash ...more
For starters, all of the praise quotes on the back of the book that liken this to "sociology" have clearly never read any actual sociological work, unless sociology in the early 1970s was just snarky, rambling journalism. I think there are interesting aspects of class and race that Wolfe highlights (perhaps unintentionally), but it is couched in such obnoxious, alienating, and often downright racist verbiage that it makes it hard to wade through

The subject matter is fascinating; the presentation
Michael Burnam-fink
Tom Wolfe should probably tattoo "I'm a lover not a hater, baby" on the inside of his eyelids. The problem with being a hater is that it's just so much fun. In this book, Wolfe goes after two of the more hilariously misguided White Guilt efforts of the late 60s; the brief fling between the Black Panthers and New York's society elite, and various Community Development programs in San Francisco.

There's actually some decent journalism in here about conflicts between charismatic and bureaucratic sty
So it all started in the 1960s....
I've heard that said so often, but I didn't really believe it. But this book shows that it did. And what's worse, that everybody knew that it--whatever you define "it" to be--didn't work and was basically just a racket, part of the race hustle put on rich liberal whites and on the government bureaucracy to get media face time and money. They were even hollering about "reparations" back then.
And almost half a century later has any of it done any good? Has any pr
Chris Avery
This was my first Tom Wolfe experience, and it was a good one. His sensitivity for finding the plate tectonic social themes within the anthropology of factional interaction was so dead on I often found myself wanting to raise a first muttering my own "right on" in solidarity. Radical Chic in particular was a very "objectively" (hah) focused piece of journalism patched together with weaving threads of humor, fashion sense, and contemporary criticisms. Wolfe's ability to find the relevant sociolog ...more
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Wolfe was educated at Washington and Lee Universities and also at Yale, where he received a PhD in American studies.

Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe delves into
More about Tom Wolfe...
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test The Bonfire of the Vanities The Right Stuff I am Charlotte Simmons A Man in Full

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“The press in New York has tended to favor New Society in every period, and to take it seriously, if only because it provides "news.” 1 likes
“...and now, in the season of the Radical Chic, the Black Panthers.” 0 likes
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