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The Natural History of the Rich: A Field Guide

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  160 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Journalist Richard Conniff probes the age-old question "Are the rich different from you and me?" and finds that they are indeed a completely different animal. He observes with great humor and finesse this socially unique species, revealing their strategies for ensuring dominance and submission, their flourishes of display behavior, the intricate dynamics of their pecking o ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 1st 2002)
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An extended comparison between various animal species (everything from bluebirds to elephants) and that most peculiar subset of human species, the very, very rich. Although at times Conniff tries a bit too hard to link displays of wealth to evolutionary biology, he's never ever dull. Who doesn't, after all, love to hear tales of the rich and famous, especially when said R&F are being taken down a peg?

Using the animal kingdom as a reference point, too, leads to interesting themes Conniff exp
Dec 25, 2010 Libby rated it really liked it
Shelves: global-values
Exactly what I wanted from it- humorous, slightly patronizing, steeped in anecdotes and allegory. I learned the most from the framework of dominance
Best sentence: p.235 "the women... were encouraged to perform karaoke, and other indecent acts."

"Such behaviours as delayed reproduction, mate-guarding, inbreeding, birth control, infanticide (particularly of daughters), primogeniture, and generation-skipping trusts have all served in various times and places as the Darwinian tools of dynasty bu
Sep 12, 2010 Joy rated it liked it
This was another of the varied books I heard on tape. The book compared social patterns of affluent people with wild animals. It was
entertaining and light listening. I was reminded of a favorite book that I like to read with Riley, Jan Karon's 'Violet Comes to Stay' where the mother cat teaches Violet rules for catching mice: (1) prowl silently (2) plan your leap carefully (3) pounce boldly.
Feb 07, 2016 Ev rated it it was amazing
This book is hilarious; an absolute gem of wit and anthropology. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking a reprieve from deep philosophical inquiry into the mien of human nature, or anyone in general seeking an enlightening laugh.

Speaking of, I almost died laughing on multiple counts reading certain passages which drew stunning parallel between human hierarchy and bestial behavior. Richard Conniff himself is a veritable comic genius, lacing his observations with punctual, precise humor. Not onc
Martin Crim
Aug 19, 2010 Martin Crim rated it really liked it
I was updating my Amazon wishlist and saw this book listed at $.01 for a hardback. It's sad to see such a great book listed for next to nothing, but it means that if you find the subject interesting you can get a copy for about the same amount (including shipping) as driving to the library (if you live about 4 miles from the library). Why not pick up a copy? Read the blurb at Amazon and see if it's worth the cost of a coffee and biscotti.
Jun 22, 2016 Christina rated it liked it
A fun and different perspective on the ultra-wealthy and their odd, insular worlds.
Aug 27, 2007 Dima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wannabes and gonnabes
facts and humour go along well together. especially when its about human behaviour. apparantly, changing your social status (up, or down) does not necessarily make you more or less human.

its full of cliche, but with real comparison to animal behaviour. you'd enjoy every page, smile or laugh your way through in an effortless quick read.

highly recommended to own. get the hard cover.
Jul 18, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished
I just skimmed this. I wasn't in the mood for it. Conniff describes the habits of the super rich, using evolutionary psychology. He has a mix of precepts amid a ton of anecdotes. After a few pages, I wanted to get out of the marbled entryways, the private nightclubs and the exclusive beaches.
Martim De
Apr 28, 2016 Martim De rated it really liked it
Remarkable and full of sincerity all around.
Paranoia in addition to irrational FEARS against others.
Little white lies and huge deception to protect current status against "new comers".
HILARIOUS and so instructive !!
Robin Canaday
Nov 01, 2007 Robin Canaday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty decent pulp non-fiction, popular/speculative science book.
I thought the writer had a personable and humorous style. Very readable.
Aug 19, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Written by journalists for National Geographic and Architectural Digest. Witty, hysterical and insightful. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
May 28, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Really interesting and funny book about social dominance. I definitely recommend it.
Suzy Perucca
Oct 14, 2012 Suzy Perucca rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Entertaining and thought provoking.
A really fun, tongue-in-cheek read.
May 11, 2008 Kupie rated it really liked it
Very interesting ideas.
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Richard Conniff, a Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the National Magazine Award, is the author most recently of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth. He writes for Smithsonian and National Geographic and is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and a former commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. His other books include The Natural History o ...more
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