Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rob Recommends Listening to Richistan

My family listened to Richistan, by Robert Frank, on a recent car trip to New Jersey. Frank is a Wall Street Journal reporter who got himself assigned to cover the super-wealthy beat in America. He spent a year traveling the country, observing, studying and interviewing the very wealthiest Americans. The author came to believe that the best way to understand this group of millionaires is to see them as inhabiting a separate country. To help the rest of us understand this nation’s culture and people, Frank wrote this book, Richistan: a Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. Richistan is a fascinating and funny glimpse into a world most of us could never imagine. It’s a world of $700,000 watches, 300 foot yachts, millionaire support groups, $25,000 a plate charity dinners and residents who don’t know how many cars they own. In one particularly interesting chapter, Frank takes us through butler training at Butler Boot Camp. The rigors of the training course say more about those doing the employing (“principals”) than about the trainees themselves. (FYI, the top graduates of elite butler schools earn $75-120,000 per year.) Throughout, Frank accomplishes the nearly impossible feat of neither fawning over nor disparaging the citizens of Richistan. See what you think…

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