Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture

Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture

Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture

Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture

Synopsis

As Americans, we have been taught to be obsessed with money and the people who have it. We are curious about what they buy, where they vacation, and what separates them from the rest of us.

Rich puts the American obsession with all things money into much-needed perspective and context, exposing the origins of the upper class. The book traces the history of the American rich from 1920 up to today, examining the who, what, when, where, and why of the wealthy elite. With its hundreds of compelling, real-life stories, Rich offers a fascinating window into this world few ever see. Samuel delves into the secrets about the rich and famous: Who were the Gateses, Bransons, and Trumps (and even Paris Hiltons) of the past? How did the rich show off their status? What did they splurge on and how did they scrimp when times got tough? Rich also explores the rise of the first mass affluent class in America and the virtual demise of old money as we knew it. Enlightening and often surprising, Rich gives us a deeper understanding of our country's wealthiest and most enigmatic class.

Excerpt

“WITHIN THE LAST TEN YEARS NO END OF PEOPLE HAVE become rich,”a Los Angeles Times reporter once wrote telling readers that “a man with a million dollars cannot, in these days, be counted as really rich.” This reporter wasn't writing a few years ago, alarmed at how hedge fund managers were pulling further and further away from the mere rich, or even in the late 1980s as investment bankers made unprecedented gobs of money. No, this reporter was writing shortly before the market crash in 1929, another time in which it seemed that a million dollars just wasn't what it used to be.

Rich reveals many such stories, which tell us a lot about how the cultural dynamics surrounding the wealthy elite have both changed dramatically and remained remarkably the same over the past century or so. The first full examination of the American rich since 1920, this book traces the cultural trajectory of the wealthy elite and completes a surprisingly overlooked and important chap-

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