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Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the flak catchers

Author: Tom Wolfe
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [1970]
Edition/Format:   Print book : Fiction : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Two essays scathingly comment on the new racial and ethnic games being played by America's Beautiful People.
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Material Type: Fiction
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Tom Wolfe
ISBN: 0374246009 9780374246006
OCLC Number: 104238
Notes: "Radical chic appeared, in somewhat different form, in New York magazine in June 1970."
Description: 153 pages ; 21 cm
Responsibility: by Tom Wolfe.
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Abstract:

Two essays scathingly comment on the new racial and ethnic games being played by America's Beautiful People.

In this devastatingly funny book, Tom Wolfe shows again why he is regarded as his era's most brilliant observer of the American social scene. The book consists of two long essays, closely related in theme and substance, both dealing with political stances and social styles in the status-minded world of the 1960s. In Radical Chic, Wolfe describes the courting of romantic radicals--Black Panthers, striking farmworkers, Latino gang members--by New York's social elite. He focuses particularly on one symbolic event: the 1970 gathering of the radically chic at Leonard Bernstein's duplex apartment on Park Avenue to meet spokesmen of the Black Panther Party, to hear them out, and talk over ways of aiding their cause. Wolfe re-creates the incongruous scene--and its astonishing repercussions--with high fidelity. But he gives us more than just a wry account of life among the Beautiful People; he also provides an historical perspective on that impulse of the upper classes to identify themselves with what they imagine to be the raw, vital life-style of the "lower orders." In the companion essay, Wolfe travels west to San Francisco to survey another meeting-ground between militant minorities and the liberal white establishment. "Mau-Mauing the flak catchers" deals with the newly emerging art of confrontation: the techniques developed by young blacks, Chicanos, Filipinos, Chinese, Indians, and even Samoans in their relations with the bureaucracy that grew up in and around the poverty program. The militants seemed to divine the underlying psychology of the war on poverty much better than the administrators. Unconsciously the administrators practically begged for confrontation--"mau-mauing" was the jocular term of the militants themselves--and the militants gave it to them in an inspired assortment of forms. The upshot was "The Ethnic Catering Service." Wolfe's description of the performances of such artists of the mau-mau as the leaders of groups like the Mission Rebels, the Youth for the Future and the New Thang, and the responses of catchers of the flak, including the Mayor himself, makes for uproarious farce. But the points he makes about racial and ethnic game-playing in America's new class wars are inescapably valid. Whether the action's on Mission Street or Park Avenue, Tom Wolfe is here writing at the top of his form, in a book that remains required reading for those seeking to understand how we got to where we are today.--Adapted from dust jacket.

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