Book review: Boomsday, by Christopher Buckley

originally posted elsewhere: January 15, 2008

tl;dr: Cruder and blunter than Buckley's best, but still on-target...

One gets the strong sense, reading Christopher Buckley's satirical fiction, that his books contain more truth about how Washington D.C. really works than anything that appears in the newspaper, newsmagazines, or the many political tomes cranked out by inside-the-Beltway pundits.

Boomsday is an up-to-the-moment political novel that skewers many of Buckley's (and Buckley fans' - myself included) favorite targets: two-faced hypocritical politicians without an ethical or ideological bone in their body, who will say and do anything to get elected ad infinitum (or in other words 99% of the U.S.'s politicians); the entire Washington D.C. political system, power distribution, and process; the religious right; the loony left; and the citizen voters who "petition the government for a redress of grievances", or more accurately try to get as much federal largess steered into their own pocketbooks as possible.

A book cover with a bright orange banner on top with the author's name, featuring a drawing of a sunburst with yellow and blue rays radiating from an explosion at the center, which contains the book's title written in white cursive lettering on a bright orange background

Coming under special fire in Boomsday are the baby boomers who will soon be bankrupting Social Security. Buckley is to be commended for focusing on this very serious problem. He has given it more thought and attention than most Washington D.C. politicians, with the exception of George W. Bush, who was widely vilified for suggesting any changes at all to the status quo - and hence we continue today at full-speed, heading for the cliff. Boomsday presents a scenario that would delight a fiscal conservative or libertarian: an uprising among young working class people who tire of the increasing tax burden to further enrich the retirements of wealthy boomers. Buckley quickly takes it to somewhat absurd lengths, stimulating both thought and laughter along the way.

My primary reason for the middle-of-the-road rating is that Buckley's humor is less subtle, cruder and blunter than usual. He is at his best when he is at his wryest, as he is in my three favorite Buckley books: Thank You for Smoking, God is My Broker, and No Way to Treat a First Lady. I will continue to read Buckley, hoping that someday he can produce that fourth masterpiece.