Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, by Paul Fussell


The first thing to say about this book is that it is very funny. It is worth it just for the intelligent entertainment it provides. But even though it was written in 1983 (and no doubt ably reviewed forty years ago), it is still informative: while things are changing things haven’t changed that rapidly.

What the book aims to do is clear from the subtitle: it provides a guide to the American status system. The American status system, in turn, provides many occasions for witty descriptions, and Paul Fussell takes them all. It is instructive if you are (like me) straight from the proletarian estate–one of the signs of which is that you live with a basic suspicion but no clear idea about class. So this book can save you from ignorance and unease. It provides a view of places you may have never been, such as the upper out…

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