In Class Paul Fussell explodes the sacred American myth of social equality with eagle-eyed irreverence and iconoclastic wit. This bestselling, superbly researched, exquisitely observed guide to the signs, symbols, and customs of the American class system is always outrageously on the mark as Fussell shows us how our status is revealed by everything we do, say, and own. He describes the houses, objects, artifacts, speech, clothing styles, and intellectual proclivities of American classes from the top to the bottom and everybody -- you'll surely recognize yourself -- in between. Class is guaranteed to amuse and infuriate, whether your class is so high it's out of sight (literally) or you are, alas, a sinking victim of prole drift.
Still current, still very funny
By Antonio - September 28, 2001
I read this book some ten years ago, and it struck me as most humourous and overall correct.
Although I was born in South America, I have lived and studied in the US, and I have studied and worked in France and the UK. My experience in all these geographies supports Fussell's conclusions. It is true that the higher the social class, the taller and slimmer people tend to be. It is true that the traditional lower (rather than the underclass) and the higher classes have many things in common, among them a deeply ingrained conservatism and a fierce pride in their way of being. In the UK, working class men's clubs are fighting the same fight which was lost a few years ago by the gentlemen's clubs: the right to keep women away from at least some parts of their premises. Many working class people all over the world deride attempts by others of a similar origin to "pass themselves out" as middle class, and regard middle class dress, speech patterns and social habits as... read more
You'll Hate it or You'll Love it, but You'll Never Forget It
By Renee Thorpe - July 8, 2001
Bitingly witty and embarassingly well focused look at the main classes within American society. Yes, there is an American aristocracy, but they aren't driving around in Ferraris or living in Beverly Hills. There is even a sort of aristocracy amongst the working class people whom Fussell generally refers to as proles. Fussell's sharp eye has found and catalogued an amazing array of signs that indicate class in America. Try to spot these signs at your next social gathering, or even subject your own living room to the survey at the end of the book (frighteningly accurate way to determine one's class)! This is a book based on pigeon-holing people, and that is probably what most annoyed readers can't stand about Fussell. But class distinctions do exist, like 'em or not. The middle class hope to rise in class by sending their kids to Harvard or Yale, the Proles hope to do the same by getting more money. Lucky "X Class" people don't give a hoot about such climbing, and... read more
Peck, be pecked, or choose not to peck...
By ewomack "ewomack" - May 25, 2006
Class pervades American life. Each day people judge and rank others by appearance, manners, language, and "taste" in a great societal pecking order. Some of this happens by reflex. For certain people a man in a tank top carries a high "ewww" factor. Others wince at anything monogrammed (a sure sign that the wearer seeks attention). Some may even take offense at compliments while others find the lack of a compliment an affront. It's a complicated game, and not everyone chooses to participate. But for many the game goes unnoticed.
This small book provides a good overview of the rules of the American class game. Paul Fussell delineates the choices people make that cause others to judge and categorize them (since people don't choose their race that subject doesn't appear). Everything from clothes, cars, diction, consumption (conspicuous or inconspicuous), education, housing styles, and physique to pets, reading material, jewelry, food, words, sports, interior decorating,... read more