Synopses & Reviews
As Americans, we are unapologetically obsessed with money and the people who have a lot of it. We are curious, to say the least, about how rich people make their money, how they spend it, and what separates them from the rest of us.
Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture puts the American obsession with all things money into much-needed perspective. We follow the fascinating history of the American rich from the proliferation of millionaires in the1920s, through the dismal days of the Great Depression, and into the present. It’s not a straight-line story but rather a rough-and-tumble roller-coaster ride filled with sharp twists and turns.
Rich shows how American wealth culture as we knew it has become almost extinct, owing to a variety of social and economic factors over the years—modernity and youth culture in the 1920s, financial crisis in the 1930s, the rise of the middle and upper-middle classes in the post World War II years, the countercultural, multicultural, and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the emergence of a different kind of New Money in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In addition, Rich puts today’s topsy-turvy economic climate into valuable context, showing that the American rich have survived previous tough times and will no doubt survive these.
The buzz on Rich has already started:
“For anyone interested in where affluence in America is headed during this enormous transition, Larry Samuel’s book provides an engaging, unique, and necessary historical perspective.” — Chris Glowacki, CEO, Plum TV
“Rich is a richly entertaining and informative history of how those with serious money in this country got it and used it over recent decades.” — John Steele Gordon, author of An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power
“Fascinating reading for anyone interested in the American rich and how they got that way. Insightful, timely, and captivating.” — Russ Alan Prince, President, Prince & Associates
“Most of the time we only get nuggets about America’s amazing wealth saga in two-minute TV segments and colorful sound bites. Larry Samuel brings us the whole story, including the incredible transformation of American society through affluence. He’s created the bible of big money in the U.S.” — Lewis Schiff, coauthor, The Influence of Affluence and The Middle-Class Millionaire
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.
Placing Americans' obsession with money into context and exposing the origins of the upper class, Samuel's enlightening and sometimes surprising work traces the history and evolution of wealth in America.
The first full examination of American wealth culture over the past century, Larry Samuel’s Rich completes an important chapter of the nation’s history. Rich traces the trajectory of wealth culture from the decadent Roaring Twenties up to the present and into the near future, examining the who, what, when, where, and why of the American rich. Through hundreds of compelling, real-life stories, Rich weaves a grand narrative of the monied classes in the U.S., revealing the backstory that has shaped our strange, fickle fascination with the rich and their cultural quirks. Who were the Donald Trumps and Paris Hiltons of the past? How did the rich show off their status? What did they splurge on, and how did they behave when times got tough?
Rich also reveals:
• The rise of the first mass affluent class in America and “the billionaire next door”
• The virtual demise of Old Money as we knew (and mythologized) it
• Our continuing love/hate relationship with the rich
• The tenuous relationship between wealth and happiness
• Whether the rich really are, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously thought, “different”
Enlightening, entertaining, and brimming with surprises, Rich gives us a deeper understanding of our country’s wealthiest and most enigmatic class.
Larry Samuel is the founder of Culture Planning LLC, a Miami- and New York-based resource helping organizations market to the wealthy. Called by Slate “the anthropologist of plutocrats,” Larry has been a leading consultant to Fortune 500 companies and major advertising agencies since 1990.
About the Author
Larry Samuel (Miami Beach, FL) is the founder of Culture Planning, LLC, a resource helping organizations market to the wealthy. Called “the Margaret Mead of plutocrats,” Larry has been a leading consultant to Fortune 500 companies and major advertising agencies since 1990.
Table of Contents
Introduction | 1
This Side of Paradise, 1920-1929 | 24
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? 1930-1945 | 63
If I Were a Rich Man, 1946-1964 | 104
Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz, 1965-1979 | 141
Lifestyles of the Rich And Famous, 1980-1994 | 180
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 1995- | 217
Conclusion | 258
Appendix | 263
Notes | 269
Bibliography | 297
Index | 305