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Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,652 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews
In the last few decades what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Forget the 1%; it's the wealthiest .01% who are fast outpacing the rest of us. Today's colossal fortunes are amassed by the diligent toiling of smart, perceptive businessmen who see themselves as deserving victors in a cutthroat international competition.

Cracking open this tight-knit world is Chrys
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Doubleday Canada (first published October 1st 2012)
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Nov 19, 2012 Vince rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
I feel a little guilty about rating this even though I didn't finish it but it just didn't work for me, and that is why I stopped. I read the first two and a half chapters, about half of chapter 4 and then skimmed chapter 5 and read probably a third or more of chapter 6.

The author definitely knows her subjects well, including knowing many of the plutocrats by name. This is a positive because she doesn't have to speak in the abstract but, it also has its down sides. Many of the chapters just rea
Blaise Lucey
Mar 22, 2013 Blaise Lucey rated it liked it
First, readers need to understand one thing: the cover, the name, and the back of the book are a marketing gimmick. For the first hundred pages, at least, there is nothing insightful about plutocrats themselves. Indeed, for many pages, Freeland excitingly glorifies capitalism and its winners. She enjoys referencing herself on many occasions, and just how many people she has talked to who have money, the revelations given to her from people who are celebrities for wealth alone. No crime, of cours ...more
Stephie Jane Rexroth
Dec 20, 2012 Stephie Jane Rexroth rated it it was ok
This book would have benefited from a second author, a sociologist, political scientist or economist, to transform Chrystia Freeland's interviews into a cohesive thesis. The chapters and subheadings were arbitrary; the book read more like an anthology of short articles on the subject of super-elites.

I suppose it is natural for a journalist to want to let the findings of their investigation speak for themselves. But, the conclusions and suggested solutions are what I seek from new information: w
Joshua S.
Nov 24, 2012 Joshua S. added it
Shelves: done-with-it
Reading this book made me anxious as a high-middle class, mid-level management wage slave and a father of two. You can find descriptions of what's in the book and analyses of contents elsewhere- I realize she's a journalist and, I suppose, is following her instincts and her training to be 'fair and balanced' in her approach but:

1) I would have liked to have been presented with some concrete actions I can take to slow down or reverse the seeming inexorable ascendance of the %.1 or at least ensure
Nadine Dajani
Apr 17, 2013 Nadine Dajani rated it really liked it
This was not as readable as I had hoped - there is quite a but of historical background and unnecessary detail - but it's chock full of interesting tidbits nonetheless. I read this book while on a week-long beach resort vacation so it might not have been the best setting to be reading about economic history, but the fact that I managed to finish it speaks to its merit.
The author provides an interesting theory as to who the Plutocrats really are and why we the masses are less likely nowadays to d
Oct 31, 2012 Caren rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I wanted to read this book after seeing the author on "Moyers & Company:

(If you go to the website, notice the "Dig Deeper" link on the left. Mr. Moyers is starting a book club, with this book as his first selection. There is a discussion and will be a chat with the author coming up soon.)

This is a topic which seems to be gathering interest. Charles Murray's book, "Coming Apart", Geoffrey Faux's "The Servant Economy", and other recent books have address
David Stephens
Dec 24, 2012 David Stephens rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
In Plutocrats, Chrystia Freeland examines "those at the very top: who they are, how they made their money, how they think, and how they relate to the rest of us." She makes a distinction between the richest 1% and the richest 0.1% because there is a large discrepancy between these two groups that is less frequently noticed than the one between the top 1% and bottom 99%. In fact, she suggests there are two separate economies: one for the rich—a "plutonomy"—and one for the rest of the country. And ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Margie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Margie by: Bill Moyers
My low rating for this book is based on two things: the misalignment between the author's outlook and mine, and the way the author organized the information.

If Freeland had expressed either a negative or positive opinion of the rise of a plutocracy, I would have respected her more. Instead she not only presents it as inevitable, but also seems a bit fawning toward the ultra rich. She doesn't go into a political analysis, which disappointed me. She goes along with their analysis without contribut
Dec 16, 2012 Sean rated it it was ok
I found this book on plutocrats interesting but mostly composed of loosely related vignettes rather than an all-encompassing thesis rigorously defended by its author and what that I had hoped to find. Yes, the growth in technology and globalization have increased inequality. Yes, you point to the rise of the intellectual class and the importance of human capital. And yes, you describe the plutocrats and how they ascended. But I wanted the author to tie it all together in a coherent thesis that o ...more
David Mayes
Oct 21, 2012 David Mayes rated it it was amazing
Very telling and very timely.
Jul 20, 2015 Owlseyes marked it as to-read

I have watched the interview Matt Taibbi and Chrystia Freeland gave to Moyers. CF spoke about her book. Some notes I’ve taken, ahead:

(a) The topic of the inequality/super-rich (the top 0.01%) is still a taboo, as the debates between M. Romney and B. Obama showed; the think-tanks feel good about approaching “poverty” ,though. The former topic, in the words of CF is “very frightening”.

(b) CF spoke of several phenomena under way: a hammered middle class, the attack of the plutocrats on “entitlem
Todd Martin
Dec 15, 2012 Todd Martin rated it it was ok
Plutocrats might be described as intelligent, highly educated, self-made, go-getters who have worked hard, innovated and successfully built businesses that create jobs, and benefit the economy. Their products enrich society and create technologies that allow the citizens of third world nations to work their way out of poverty and fashion better lives for themselves and their families. These individuals are compensated well, but fairly, for their achievements. They then use their millions (or bil ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Al rated it really liked it
Henry Ford said that mass production required mass consumers. This was his way of saying that his success was dependent on the existence of a successful society. I think he also understood that gains made by adding value to society will lift the boats of everyone for the most part.

The problem comes in when those at the top "arrive." They almost certainly try to set up barriers for others in order to maintain their privileged positions (think Citizens United). This is when the whole system becom
Jan 07, 2013 Bobbi rated it really liked it
A well-researched overview of the steep income disparity that characterizes our current gilded age (the second robber baron era for the West and the first gilding for China, India and others). I enjoyed how Freeland offered both historical context and took repeated stabs at defining the psycho-social fallout of towering wealth built on dwindling resources and the consumerism of the creaking middle classes. The fallout, though, isn't actually the focus of Plutocrats. Rather Freeland simply tries ...more
Sep 12, 2013 Paul rated it did not like it
If you truly, really genuinely believe that there's nothing wrong with our economy that can't be fixed by rich folks being a little bit less greedy, then you'll want to read this book. Unfortunately, like a certain presidential candidate, the author is not competent to present her own case. When a capitalist quotes Marx, as Freeland does, it's a bad sign. When she misreads him, along with much else, it's a sign of desperation. Used to be that Harvard graduates and Rhodes scholars were well equip ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Josephine rated it liked it
For the past four years, Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican self-made multi-billionaire, has topped the Forbes Billionaire list, with an estimated net worth of $73 billionaire as of March 31, 2013.

Do you know what that translates to? Carlos’ net worth is equal to about 400,000 of his fellow Mexicans.

A more often cited comparison is this: the combined incomes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet equals the wealth of the bottom 40% of the nation.

Former Financial Times deputy editor Chrystia Freeland’s “Plut
Jan 01, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
If you were expecting Naomi Klein, you will be disappointed. Chrystia Freeland's Plutocrats is more pastiche than polemic. You will find some important information in respect to the growing income and wealth disparity in America and the world. For instance, 20% of Americans own 84% of the nation's wealth (compared to 36% in Sweden); in 1970 the top 1% took 10% of the national income, today they take over 30%; in 1980 the average CEO made 42x the wage of the average worker, today they make 390x t ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Sera rated it liked it
Recommended to Sera by: Book Page Magazine
3.5 stars

This book pretty much confirmed what I already thought:

*The game is rigged against those of us who don't fall into the 0.1% of the top 1% of wealthiest in global society, known as the "Plutocrats".

*The Plutocrats live in a bubble of self-entitlement that has extended to the point where this group of people feels that they can do better for society than any government.

*Much of the wealth that this group has earned comes from both illegal and legal corruption. They are not as "self-mad
Nov 21, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
Entertaining reporting by a former Financial Times reporter on the rise of the 1% and what it all means. A lot of reporting and some very interesting anecdotes, although an even deeper analysis at times on why/how it all happened would've been helpful (she gets into that too, and I generally agree with the analysis, I just wanted even more details). Also, she seems to have a shallow understanding of so-called free-trade: apparently it's a fact of life for manufacturing workers, but highly skille ...more
Kristine Morris
Oct 30, 2013 Kristine Morris rated it really liked it
I read many of the reviews of this book, and while I have no doubt that experts in labour economics, the financial crisis and those who study of capitalism may disagree with some of what Freeland has written, for the average jane it provides a readable in-depth understanding of why the income divide is happening and why (most of) the plutocrats don't understand why the 99% might have a bit of a problem with their wealth generation.

The hardest chapter to read was the second last chapter when Free
Abhijit Selukar
Mar 26, 2013 Abhijit Selukar rated it did not like it
Not sure if I should rate the bool.
The book is so mediocre that I had to stop half way into reading it. The book is nothing but verbalization of data gathered from sources all around the world.
The book does not provide any solution. Just plain Data.
The author has again taken advantage of the current turmoil for her benefit and released the book.If the book was released in 2006-07, no one would have cared.

Read this book if you are a socialist.
NOT recommended if you believe in capitalist ideolog
Justin Powell
Jan 21, 2015 Justin Powell rated it liked it
This book is most likely not what you're expecting, or at least it wasn't for me. While the author knows her "plutocrats" very well, she doesn't really make that interesting of a story. The book felt extremely forced and dry. It felt as though she used a cookie-cutter method of constructing her story. Introduce plutocrat (x), followed by a mini-biography, and then connecting them with the rest of the "super rich" globally.

What's frustrating is the fact that this author gave no real opinions, in
Oct 18, 2012 Chris marked it as to-read
Heard an interesting interview with the author about this book on NPR, at

Looking forward to reading it. But not when I'm depressed :)
Amanda Rose
Jan 11, 2013 Amanda Rose rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
The bits where the super rich look like creepy nuts in their own words were my favourite bits and why it gets a 4 despite one could always quibble about the political economy of some other bits.
Nov 19, 2012 Dave rated it really liked it
Today's world is going through two Gilded Ages simultaneously, the 2nd for the U.S. and the 1st for the BRICs. The income inequality in these nations has created a situation in which the top 1% have more in common with each other than with their own countrymen. Charles Murray did an incredible job of covering this and analyzing from the perspectives of American culture splitting along class and education lines to the point that we're a pair of de facto separate societies. Herein Freeland analyze ...more
Uwe Hook
Mar 17, 2013 Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing
"Plutocrats" is a very interesting and well-written look at soaring income inequality in the U.S. and world wide. The book focuses especially on the people at the extreme top: the .01 (or even .001) percent and delves into the staggering differences between the lives of these people and average members of the population.

The book is full of interesting facts and insights. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet together control as much wealth as the 120 MILLION Americans at the bottom of the distribution. M
David Wilusz
May 05, 2013 David Wilusz rated it liked it
Is global capitalism working the way it should, for the betterment of all? While there is no question that global capitalism has raised living standards for millions worldwide, some have benefited disproportionately, while others have been left behind. This book looks at the top 0.01% who populate a "cozy global village" of plutocrats - how they got there, and what their attitudes are towards wealth and everyone else.

1947-1977 is called the "golden age of the middle class", where strong unions
Vikki Marshall
Feb 04, 2013 Vikki Marshall rated it it was ok
Journalist Chrystia Freeland’s examination of the rising global financial inequalities between working classes and the uber-wealthy. This book is thick with statistics and an endless, mind-numbing barrage of the earnings and extravagance of the upper 1%. It delves into the financial collapse and how it ricocheted around the globe, reflecting upon the greed of the bankers who came so close to collapsing financial sectors all around the world and yet suffered very modestly for their actions. There ...more
Mar 29, 2013 Ob-jonny rated it really liked it
This book describes in fascinating detail the worlds in which the super rich live and the current state of income inequality all over the world. People don't realize how much the super rich consider themselves as being part of a separate class of society from the rest of humanity. They don't have to deal with much accountability from the law as well as criticism from their peers. Their obscenely lavish parties show how little concern they have for the average person. although Bill Gates is quote ...more
Teresa Owens
The author was interviewed on NPR and the book sounded very interesting. It's not. I wanted to know more of what these plutocrats think--about themselves, the rest of us, and how we relate or don't. Instead I was inundated by facts and numbers and boring bits of history. I skimmed most of the book and basically learned that there are a few categories of plutocrats and they arrive at their wealth by various means. Economists have developed theories of wealth accumulation. Most of the book is pret ...more
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1% in American Hi...: Freeland and Taibbi on Bill Moyers 1 2 Dec 11, 2014 12:53PM  
1% in American Hi...: Plutocrats (the book) 1 4 Dec 11, 2014 08:25AM  
Twitter Male Book...: Week 1 reading assignments and questions 1 4 Feb 20, 2013 08:57PM  
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Chrystia Freeland is the Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters news since March 1, 2010, having formerly been the United States managing editor at the Financial Times, based in New York City. Freeland received her undergraduate education from Harvard University, going onto St Antony's at University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She attended the United World College of the Adriatic, Italy, 1984-86.

More about Chrystia Freeland...

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“A 2011 OECD report showed that, over the past three decades, in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Israel, and New Zealand--all countries that have chosen a version of capitalism less red in tooth and claw than the American model--inequality has grown as fast as or faster than in the United States. France, proud, as usual, of its exceptionalism, seemed to be the one major Western outlier, but recent studies have shown that over the past decade it, too, has fallen into line.” 2 likes
“Americans were happy to celebrate their super-rich and, at least sometimes, worry about their poor. But putting those two conversations together and talking about economic inequality was pretty much taboo.” 2 likes
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