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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank, 2008. * * * *

Let's face it: we all want to know about “the Rich”. We know they're different than us, but how? We want to pry, but we're too polite or inhibited to ask, even if we get the chance, which is increasingly rare since they're walling themselves off in gated estates, floating around on mega-yachts or hiding behind the telephones at Christies auctions. Thank goodness the Wall Street Journal has unleashed Robert Frank , its "wealth reporter,"  to explore this subject.. "Richistan" is the colloquial term Mr. Frank uses to describe the booming numbers of wealthy andit reads like the best travel writing, full of colorful and interesting stories and providing insights into exotic locales. Robert Frank has been loitering on the docks of yacht marinas, pestering his way into charity balls, and schmoozing with real estate agents who sell mega-houses, all in order to capture the story of the twenty-first century’s nouveau riche. As Frank reveals, there is not one Richistan but three: Lower, Middle, and Upper, each of which has its own levels and distinctions of wealth —the haves and the have-mores.  As the New York TImes Book Review stated "like an anthropologist in the Amazon basin, Frank goes native but instead of a loincloth, he dons a white tuxedo.” I can't remember the last time I've had so much fun with a work of non-fiction as I did reading Richistan

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