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Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  2,121 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Classic Wolfe, a funny, irreverent, and "delicious" (The Wall Street Journal) dissection of class and status by the master of New Journalism."On the night of January 4, 1970, Maestro and Mrs. Leonard Bernstein threw a bash in their thirteen-room park Avenue pad to raise money for the Black Panthers Defense Fund. New York society will probably never play Lady Bountiful in q ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Picador (first published 1970)
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Jan 24, 2009 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

May 01, 2007 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2009 Grandma Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2007 Jrobertus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2008 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  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.
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.
Jun 14, 2007 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Taylor
Mar 26, 2016 Mark Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom Wolfe entered the political fray with the two essays in his 1970 book Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. “Radical Chic” describes a fundraiser that Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia held at their Park Avenue apartment for the Black Panther Party. Wolfe wasn’t actually invited to the party, but he saw the invitation on David Halberstam’s desk at Harper’s magazine. Halberstam wasn’t in, so Wolfe pocketed the invitation and RSVP’d to the party. Wolfe was struck by the incongr ...more
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
Ed [Redacted]
Jul 30, 2016 Ed [Redacted] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great little book. I really enjoyed Wolfe's adroit skewering of slumming wealth liberals in "Radical Chic." "Mau Mauing the Flack Catchers" is a little more of a mixed bag. Some useful observations and clever turns of phrase, but ultimately less satisfying than "Radical Chic."
Jason Ross
Dec 10, 2009 Jason Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 10, 2013 Wanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ori Fienberg
Aug 04, 2009 Ori Fienberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfictionista
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
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
Jul 16, 2009 Vivienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-history, satire
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.
Nov 12, 2009 Kat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Mar 17, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bruce Zimmerman
I was on a big Wolfe kick, read about four or five of his books. I really enjoyed them
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!
Jun 05, 2008 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture-politics
Funny little book of essays lampooning 60s/70s liberalism.
Jul 01, 2009 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wolfe is a smart-aleck.
Troy Van horn
May 17, 2016 Troy Van horn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Thanks for the lend, Brendan.
Jul 24, 2007 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good laugh. A bit of a drag though.
Geir Ruud
Jun 15, 2012 Geir Ruud rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great storytelling, hilarious description of "white guilt meets black rage", as Time wrote some 40 years ago.
Nov 29, 2009 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural-studies
So dated...and yet timely.
Dec 17, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant and incendiary, 'Radical Chic' stylishly ridicules the spectacle of radical "black power" politics and its co-dependency with liberal white guilt and welfare state bureaucracy. Wolfe's terrifically comedic style masks a tragic critique of the post-King civil rights movement. That is, absent King's leadership and with its glory days already fading, the coalition of courageous activists, enlightened social elites, and earnest bureaucrats turned on one another in a farcical theater of mut ...more
Jan 12, 2017 Edgar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the author's take on race relations during the Sixties - which was poignant, acerbic and funny. With rapier wit Wolfe skewers the bourgeois and the proletariat for dancing their silly dance in an attempt to exploit one another - the former trying to gain what would be called "street cred" in today's parlance, while the latter tried to get a little bit of the limousine liberals' cheddar. It can be said, I think, this "nostalgie de la boue" still goes on today - especially in Hollyw ...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...

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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.” 2 likes
“...and now, in the season of the Radical Chic, the Black Panthers.” 1 likes
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