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May 05, 1991|Charles Solomon

THE WORST YEARS OF OUR LIVES: Irreverent Notes on a Decade of Greed by Barbara Ehrenreich (Harper: $9.95). Ehrenreich lampoons the fads and follies of the Reagan years in this collection of mordantly sarcastic columns: "In economics, we borrowed from the Bourbons; in foreign policy, we drew on themes fashioned by the nomad warriors of the Eurasian steppes. In spiritual matters, we emulated the braying intolerance of our archenemies and esteemed customers, the Shi'ite fundamentalists." She notes the oxymoronic behavior of yuppies who alternately overeat and overexercise, analyzes the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment and lambasts George Bush for his divisive campaign rhetoric. If Ehrenreich reserves her most devastating comments for the genially detached paterfamilias of the era, she is also unsparing in her criticism of her fellow journalists: "Look how patiently and supportively they have handled years of non sequiturs, run-on sentences, lies, half-truths, and fantasies--as if nothing at all were wrong!" Guaranteed to raise the hackles (and blood pressure) of Republicans.

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