Review: OK, boomers, ‘The Aftermath’ dives into major shifts

“The Aftermath: the Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of Power in America” by Philip Bump (Viking)

At the outset of his book, columnist Philip Bump makes it clear that he’s writing about an America undergoing massive shifts as the baby boom generation ages.

“We are living through a historic disruption of the American empire,” The Washington Post national columnist writes in the introduction to “The Aftermath: the Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of Power in America.”

What that disruption means for the country remains uncertain in many areas, but Bump leaves no stone unturned as he takes a detailed look at the rise of the baby boom generation, its impact on the United States and the implications of its final days.

That look is bookended by the tale of Kathleen Casey Kirschling. She had been identified in a 1980 book as America’s first baby boomer, born just after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946. That date began the baby boom that has shaped the nation for decades.

To show just how many areas he explores, Bump even manages time to take a look at the evolution of James Bond during the baby boomers’ rise.

It would be easy to to get lost in the numbers as Bump takes a deep dive into as he looks at the cultural, political and demographic changes the country is going through. But there’s no shortage of charts and graphs throughout the book to help readers along the way.

Many of the consequences of the last days of the baby boom generation that Bump outlines are playing out in today’s headlines, including the increased strains on government services and employers as the generation ages.

Fittingly, the book ends with an exploration of how the fissures that have developed as the generations shift are shaping democracy. Bump describes an environment where hyper-partisanship, technology and distrust of institutions are combining to create an even more divisive environment.

The biggest unanswered question left is what will become of democracy in such an environment, especially as the baby boom generation’s power fades.

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