Customer Review

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant and enlightening, 14 Feb 2011
This review is from: The First to Know: How Hipsters and Mavericks Shape the Zeitgeist (Paperback)
This is a huge book - not just in terms of size (it's long and extraordinarily detailed throughout) but also in terms of ambition. It's about subjects that will interest many people (perhaps we all find the idea of being cool, at the cutting edge, and in the know intriguing to some extent, even if we don't live that way ourselves). Its narrative spans two decades (the 1990s and the noughties) and includes personal anecdotes from MTV parties, to Bosnia, to exclusive club nights in Shoreditch which contextualise the author's main argument (well-researched and thoroughly referenced throughout) tracing the trajectory of 'cool' and 'hip' - from their underground starting points to going mainstream and eventually selling out. It explains how trends rise, spread and fall in a repeating, cyclical fashion.

If you enjoyed The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, then this book draws on some of the ideas expressed there, but expands on them, putting forward the argument that at this point in the history of hip, parents are now cooler than their children - which challenges popular belief and probably quite a lot of marketers' preconceptions, too. This idea is returned to throughout the book and develops as a central theme.

The thing I really enjoyed about this book was that it was so hard to categorise. Unlike most books that get published, it's more than one thing, defiantly so, and therefore quite hard to pin down. It doesn't patronise the reader. It's personal, yes, but it's also academic and analytical. It's part historical (and contemporary) account, but it's also an impassioned appeal against the culture of homogenisation that threatens to engulf our creative industries.

Most of all, I'd recommend it as a good read. It's engagingly written and if you've got any interest in popular culture there'll be something (or someone) in there for you. It'll also get you thinking about where creative innovation really comes from (and it's perhaps not always where the media lead us to believe it comes from)... And where it might pop up next.
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