Like the wealth of nations or Leviathon this book is both an economic, and social text. Very good perspective if somewhat harsh and disassociated. Percuinary emulation is something everybody should understand to avoid becoming a mindless yuppie clone - good advice.
I was extremely pleased with this book. It reduces the notion of society to a popularity contest in which fashion becomes the perfect expression of everyone's desire to be praised and noticed. As the American economy shifts from being a breadbasket to being the entertainment capital of a devil in blue jeans world, this book, from a much earlier historical period, shows how America always had the potential to achieve this kind of greatness. More than any other book, this one allows total enjoyment of the thoughts which it expresses. When a mind has been trained to blossom in this way, the greatest danger might be that it could be considered grandiose for daring to make such comments.
It's true to say that Veblen's book is one of the great classics of economic theory; however, such a description suggests (at least to non-economists like myself) that the book will be either dull or remorselessly technical. On the contrary, "The Theory of the Leisure Class" is stylishly written, endlessly startling (for example, Veblen analyses religion as an outgrowth of the gambling instinct), and very, very funny. Its expose of "conspicuous consumption" (yes, Veblen was the one who invented this famous concept) is as relevant today as it was in 1899, if not more so. Whether or not you agree with all that he says, it's thought-provoking and exciting stuff.
According to Veblen, all property is "theft" and "bourgeois", and any form of leisure is "bourgeois" and sinful. So, must everyone, indiscriminately, be strip naked and become perpetuum mobile, non-stop working beasts of burden for the "dignity of labor"?