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A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,406 ratings  ·  270 reviews
In his "remarkable" (Men's Journal) and "controversial" (Fortune) book -- written in a "wry, amusing style" (The Guardian) -- Bruce Cannon Gibney shows how America was hijacked by the Boomers, a generation whose reckless self-indulgence degraded the foundations of American prosperity.

In A Generation of Sociopaths, Gibney examines the disastrous policies of the most powerf
Hardcover, 430 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Hachette Books
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DougInNC The book does contain a great deal of impressive historical research and data, but I would have to classify it as opinion. Author Gibney does not seem…moreThe book does contain a great deal of impressive historical research and data, but I would have to classify it as opinion. Author Gibney does not seem to have the credentials to diagnose sociopathy, but pulls many facts (and anecdotes) into formulating his ("circumstantial," he admits) "proof" of this condition.(less)
DougInNC I agree with Jason Clark's answer, which was two years ago: Kindle eBook is fine for reading "Sociopaths." The charts are few, simple, reasonably legi…moreI agree with Jason Clark's answer, which was two years ago: Kindle eBook is fine for reading "Sociopaths." The charts are few, simple, reasonably legible, and explained completely in the text of the book.(less)

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Aug 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
If you are going to read this book, something you have to keep in mind is that the author is an extremely wealthy and successful investment banker and venture capitalist. Throughout the book, he fails to see that what has actually caused the problems in America that he points to in the data such as the decrease in savings rate, increase in cost for college, failure to address environment change, and discrediting of science are people exactly like himself. He uses broad generalizations about cher ...more
Sam Scott
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a fun, fascinating - and somewhat depressing - read, offset by the author's witty humor and thorough research. With such a bold title, I was curious how Gibney would make the case. As he sees it, it's not that every Boomer is a sociopath, but rather that as a generation, the Boomers have overseen a series of personal and policy choices that have systematically benefited themselves at the expense of the younger generations in a sociopathic manner. After finishing it, I'm convinced that t ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I read an ARC provided by Hachette Books that was written before Trump had won the Republican primaries so there may be edits made by Gibney in response to the election.

I'll clarify my biases at the outset by saying I'm a Canadian Millennial (born in 1988) raised by Silent/Lost generation parents (born during WWII) so I wasn't raised by Baby Boomers.

This is not the first time I've seen Baby Boomers called sociopaths and I think it's an understandable response to the labels put on Millennials who
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic

What does that word bring to mind for you? Your kindly parents or grandparents? Yourself and your friends? Or a generation of people who have eaten up big at the societal table and skipped the bill, leaving their children to wash metaphorical dishes for decades?

In case you haven’t guessed from his inflammatory title, Bruce Gibney sees Boomers as the latter – A Generation of Sociopaths who have broken the social contract, pulled every ladder up behind them then plundered their nation for
Ian Scuffling
3.667 stars. Repeating, of course.

I first heard about this book from a friend who heard an interview with Bruce Cannon Gibney on NPR. I listened to the interview, which featured talk about how the Boomers were sociopathic due to their high exposure to television, lead (paint, fuel, et. al.), hedonism (drug culture, sex culture), and often just rode on the coattails of their parents' generation for all their claims about civil rights, etc. Compelling arguments. The thing is, this book is really m
Todd N
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man oh man this is a long and dense book. But I kept reminding myself that hating on Baby Boomers is a marathon not a sprint.

In this book we learn that the primary division in politics since about Proposition 13 hasn't been Left vs. Right -- it has been Baby Boomer vs. all other generations and Baby Boomer vs. decency and Baby Boomer vs. the good of America and Baby Boomer vs. Earth.

I'm cool with that. I think Baby Boomers suck because there are at least three classic rock FM stations in any maj
Jim Robles
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am not actually going to read this one, because I feel like I could have written it. If you have any doubts about the validity about my perpetual rant against Baby Boomers, this might make interesting reading.

Instead of a review, I am adding my current message to our Democratic Party Leadership.

I was appalled by

"POLITICS - CONGRESSIONAL MEMO - For Democrats, Being Out of Power Has Its Perks,” By EMMARIE HUETTEMANFEB. 12, 2017, The New York Times.

What if anything does the House Leadership care
Marina Mangiararina
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
The first ~120 pages of this book were fairly enlightening, as Gibney attempts to explain the social reasons for Baby Boomer's self-absorbedness. The arguments given are compelling, and statistically backed.

But when Gibney dips into politics, it's all stuff I've heard before. And I'm finding myself hard pressed to blame baby boomers for the demise of the United States. Might we forget that generations preceding the boomers were extremely repressive towards women, minorities, or those that were L
J.M. Hushour
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Always be wary of rank and petty-seeming generalizations, some wise-acre always said. I can't remember who that was right now, but that wisdom is applicable here.
That's not to say the entire book is a wash. Blaming an entire generation for all kinds of shit is enticing and easy, especially when you have science supposedly backing you up. Like the more successful The Corporation, Gibney tries to form a psychoanalytic analysis of the entire titular generation using contemporary psychoanalytic tool
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book. I've always wondered what exactly happened to the baby boomers in my life. For awhile I thought maybe it was the time they spent under school desks during the Cuban Missile Crisis that fried their brain. Obviously life is more complex than just one moment in history.

George Carlin nailed it:

My Grandparents were into books and science. My parents (baby boomers) not at all. Same with my husband's parents and a good amount of my friend's p
Kyle Nicholas
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, sociology
This is the book I would have written. I've been discoursing about the Boomers and their drive to ruin all things - and then blame the young - for years now. The only things I would have omitted, or at least trumpeted the FACTS as opposed to the liberal rhetoric bandied about like an expensive joint, are these:

1. Aggressive policing works. Stop-and-frisk nabs criminals off the streets and is a huge success. This has been proven by research (that the author chooses to ignore because it blights hi
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a refreshing, novel, and robustly researched book. Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room - the title is a tad too provocative, and even the author doesn't seem to think all that many boomers are literally sociopaths. Think of it as a way to frame a generation's choices, actions and behaviors. And in that sense, the book cuts through the exhausted (and exhausting) left/right ideological tropes like a knife through butter. Instead, Gibney contends that the real problem with American ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
This book is a fascinating and important study of how the Baby Boomers inherited a debtless, generous and left to center government and turned it into a neoliberal enterprise on the credit cards of future generations. The author is very careful at not denouncing boomers as individuals but critics them as a generation that made foolish economic and political choices in total disregard for long term consequences. It really focuses on the ''Boomer Agenda'' that started in the late 70's but really p ...more
Conor Ahern
Man, this book made me resentful. I'm sure I have some Boomer friends (certainly family), and I'll save them the trouble of saying "Not all Boomers!" But this generation really shit the bed for the rest of humanity. The author presents it as almost idiopathic (though the toss-off factoid about sociopathy--and growing up as a Boomer in America--being correlated with lead paint exposure was both humorous and merits more consideration), and I'm not so much interested in the "why?" or "whether?" of ...more
Chance Lee
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-story
Beyond the sensational title, Gibney lays out convincing evidence that the fault for America's stagnant growth, poor education, and expanding debt and waistlines lies at the feet of the Worst Generation: The Boomers. Born into a world of great opportunity, they kept it all for themselves. Their parents paid all the bills and, once The Greatest Generation died off, Boomer children now foot the bill.

As they took power in government, their selfishness meant that government policies were made and a
Robb Bridson
Apr 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am a younger Gen-Xer, which means most of my life was centered around the boomers and somewhat enjoys seeing the boomers freak out as there is finally a generation large enough to try to take the spotlight.
I would expect to like this book.

But I also have an educational background in social sciences and I keep up as much as I can on such stuff.
So frankly this looks to me like the rantings of a liberal-identifying rich dude rationalizing his reactionary feelings rather than questioning them.

Sean Eddy
Apr 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's easier to criticize than to create...and this is definitely the former.

I read the first 75 pages and skimmed the rest but it was filled with so much bullsh** and lies of omission that the book makes for well referenced but not well researched pseudo non-fiction. While the author gets the point across that there has been a general selfishness in the economic and political arenas for some time, he fails by attributing it only to Boomers. One could easily argue (and probably make a better and
Scott Lupo
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
From the title I thought this book would be little tongue-in-cheek. Not so much. Gibney takes the definition of Sociopath from the DSM-V and applies it to the Baby Boomer generation. And it is seriously damning. I have certainly had my issues with the Boomers, as any of my friends could tell you, but Gibney takes it to another level. He covers so many topics including the Vietnam war, science, technology, economics, debt, social security, taxes, politics, neoliberalism, and much more. No doubt i ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
The loathing that Bruce Gibney feels toward baby boomers is a little frightening. And that's probably the most important thing about A Generation of Sociopaths. It's a long book and Gibney lays out his arguments about how Boomers are to blame for everything that is wrong with America. He has some points, to be sure, but it's a bit overdone, and there's no attempt to find any redeeming qualities of an entire generation. Surely we get a little credit for LGBTQ rights and classic rock. In any case, ...more
Jay Dougherty
May 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished
More of a polemic than a fact filled critique of the baby boomers. this book ignores larger historical trends to meet the author's thesis of baby boomers as a generation of sociopaths. There is an entire chapter dedicated to the anti-scientific tendencies of boomers as if it was something novel ignoring that many of the most successful technology companies of the last 40 years were created by them (Microsoft and Apple) and the trend towards anti-scientific thought tends way before this generatio ...more
Tony Canas
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one is a bit out there and it's very much on purpose. He makes a strong and well researched case that the Baby Boomers have essentially screwed every other generation in the country through the use of their larger numbers and their tendency to vote. They have legislated for their own benefit from the moment they turned 18 and continue to do so today with little regard for others. While I wouldn't call any of the specific Boomers I know a sociopath, their generation has behaved like that man ...more
Rheama Heather
Apr 02, 2021 rated it liked it
I don't understand much of this book, but I tried. The author is brilliant, and he sees a strong pattern of irresponsibility and selfishness among the Baby Boom generation. No fault of Gibney's, but I was lost in numbers, stats, economics, and little known historical facts.

My intellect lies more in verbal and emotional intelligence. So while I can’t verify the author's theory, I can explain how Boomers make me feel.

I feel angry, for one thing, because of their never-ending stranglehold on politi
Eric Wurm
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Can an entire generation of people be sociopaths? No. Can an entire generation frequently act as if they were sociopaths? Bruce Cannon Gibney says the answer is "Yes!"

The author claims in his lengthy and well-cited book that the voting patterns and political activity of the "Boomer" generation show traits that can be associated with sociopathy in the Diagnotic Statistical Manual (DSM-V). In each chapter he discusses particular sociopathic traits and how they pertain to the mindset of the Boomer
Duke Jeopardy
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read this book and Bob Woodward's "Fear" back-to-back and that, all told, that took me about 5 months to finish. It turns out that reading about something that is not surprising at all and that you agree with 100% is incredibly boring and tedious. At the end of the day, there's nothing all that new or interesting in either of these books. To summarize both books: the Baby Boomers are a bunch of entitled pricks that don't realize how they good they've got it and rose to prominence on all the in ...more
Soukyan Blackwood
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
all reviews in one place:
night mode reading
skaitom nakties rezimu

About the Book: Have your parents ever went “well, in my times” and “when I was your age”? In reference to how little you get and have now? Well, you can likely thank them for that little that you’re getting. This book defines some lines in economy. What makes it grow, what makes it fall. What’s sustainable, and what’s a mere temporary solution, likely made by those who will profit from it, leaving the next generation to
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, economics
This is a surprisingly good book, especially the first few chapters in which the author describes the influences that created an entire generation of sociopaths. His case is persuasive, especially given the vast supporting data which he covers extensively for the rest of the book.

But while Gibney accurately diagnoses the problems, he's less adept at providing the solutions. That's because he seems to believe higher taxes over a rather lengthy period of time are part of what's required to reverse
Jason Anthony
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I tend not to read politicized polemics from either side of the aisle but a Washington Post review and the title got my attention here. Yes, it's like watching a heated rant from Fox News or MSNBC but the author does a better job providing data than those biased on-air diatribes (with the caveat below).

The fact remains that we are facing great fiscal concerns with Medicare, Social Security, etc. and those in my generation presume those safety nets we are paying into will not be there for us. Th
Char Freund
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommended by a friend as a way to explain rise in white supremacy and how seemingly nice people were condoning bigotry against refugees, LGBT, etc
Guess easy summary is baby boomers are selfish and want to keep the whole pie for themselves. Author feels they got this way by being told they were special thus putting individual wants above the needs of others.
Felt this was an oversimplification and he tried too hard to stress his unproven theory. Hard to read so I just skimmed through it.
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was ok

To label an entire generation of people as sociopaths is irresponsible, not to mention a nauseating practice of pseudo-psychology...which is a shame because there is something important to say about the selfishness of the baby boomer generation.

Perhaps if the writer (and his editor) discarded the first five chapters, we, the readers, could have a credible argument against the boomers. Unfortunately, however, Gibney paints with the broadest of brushes in the opening chapters and discredi
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Bruce Cannon Gibney is an American venture capitalist and author. He was one of the first investors at PayPal. His first book, A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, was published by Hachette in 2015.

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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
126 likes · 46 comments
“Uncle Jim may think kids these days are terrible (Snapchat! Tattoos! Jeans in the office!), but when confronted with the evidence of what actually happened in the Sixties, he might fall refreshingly silent, especially when you explain exactly how many of your tax dollars subsidize his health care. The nonsociopathic wing of the Boomer generation may also find value in seeing the acts of their contemporaries in a different light and be persuaded to stand against a sociopathic agenda that serves them at the expense of their children.” 4 likes
“The central theme of this book is that America’s present dilemma resulted substantially and directly from choices made by the Baby Boomers. Their collective, pathological self-interest derailed a long train of progress, while exacerbating and ignoring existential threats like climate change. The Boomers’ sociopathic need for instant gratification pushed them to equally sociopathic policies, causing them to fritter away an enormous inheritance, and when that was exhausted, to mortgage the future. When the consequences became troubling, Boomer leadership engaged in concealment and deception in a desperate effort to hold the system together just long enough for their generational constituencies to pass from the scene. The story of the Boomers is, in other words, the story of a generation of sociopaths running amok.” 3 likes
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