[Book Review] Boomsday by Christopher Buckley

Boomsday book cover

Boomsday is a 2007 novel by Christopher Buckley, which is a political satire about the rivalry between squandering Baby Boomers and younger generations of Americans who do not want to pay high taxes for their elders’ retirement.

The author of the book is the same guy who wrote the sharp, witty Thank You For Smoking which satires the tabacco industry and their lobbyists. The book was adapted into a movie in 2005. This was what drawn me to Boomsday; I had enjoyed the movie adaption of Thank You for Smoking immensely and was looking for the same brand of acid humour on American society and politics.

Boomsday is referred in the book as the day that a majority of the Baby Boomers would begin retiring, thrusting the United States into economic trouble and the raising of taxes to compensate for Social Security.

Plot synopsis (via wikipeda):

Cassandra Devine, “a morally superior twenty-nine-year-old PR chick” and moonlit angry blogger, incites generational warfare when she proposes that the financially nonviable Baby Boomers be given incentives (free Botox, no estate tax) to kill themselves at 70. The proposal, meant only as a catalyst for debate on the issue, catches the approval of millions of citizens, chief among them an ambitious presidential candidate, Senator Randolph Jepperson.

With the aide of public relations guru Terry Tucker, Devine and Jepperson attempt to ride “Voluntary Transitioning” all the way to the White House, over the objections of the Religious Right and the Baby Boomers, deeply offended by the demonstrations taking place on the golf courses of their retirement resorts.

I see parallel between the book’s fictional political landscape and the sea of political changes sweeping across the Middle East the US and Asia, including Singapore.

The ruling party in the book is like the old rich, old elite who are in too deep into old political habits and self-interest to connect with the real world sufferings of their electorates (i.e. the Republicans in the US or the PAP in Singapore).

This create the perfect opportunity for a young, brash fresh-faced political newbie like Cassandra Devine (Nicole Seah in Singapore) and an old elite firebrand (Tan Jee Say in Singapore) who wants to break away from the establishment to rise up and challenge the ruling party.

Utilising new media channels like blogs and relying more on word-of-mouth than conventional rallying methods, Devine and Jepperson were able to attract the votes of politically apathetic young voters under 30s and get them to take an interest in politics.

Ironically though, the author, Buckley’s political leaning is towards the Republican and the book is essentially a satire on America’s Social Security (welfare) system which the political left had fought hard for.

In real life, there has been a drought of charismatic figures from the political right, whether in the US or Singapore.

Nonetheless, the book is still a very fun read with acid sharp humour on every page. If political satire is your kind of thing, this is a great book to pick up at the bookstore. 🙂

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