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Rich Man, Poor Man

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  21,446 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Rich Man, Poor Man is the story of two brothers whose contrasting natures reflect the turmoil of post-war America. Rudy is the rich man - a romantic who would let no one stand between him and success. Tom is the poor man - the black sheep of the family on the run from his violent past.
Hardcover, 635 pages
Published by George Weidenfeld & Nicholson (first published 1969)
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Julian I liked Tom and was keen on Gretchen until she took up with the idiot and got obsessive about the kid.
I preferred Boylan to Willie.

Rudolph definitely…more
I liked Tom and was keen on Gretchen until she took up with the idiot and got obsessive about the kid.
I preferred Boylan to Willie.

Rudolph definitely was not my favorite character.

Beggarman Thief was a huge disappointment. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mark R.
This is the fourth, and best, book I've read by Irwin Shaw, and having completed it, I feel that it will be a good idea for me to read everything else he ever wrote. There are many ideas and themes related throughout the course of its 600 or so pages that made me stop and think before continuing reading, and that made me think later on in the day, or the next day.

The story follows two brothers and a sister, all very different, and how their lives affect each other throughout the course of a quar
Karen M
If only all books were this good.

The story of three siblings who started life in a dysfunctional family, each with their own personality, striving for a better life.

The eldest, Gretchen, who accepted help from a wealthy man and willingly paid his price, ends up becoming an independent woman but only after many years have passed.

Rudolph, the golden child not just to his mother but also to other people as he climbs the ladder of success with hardwork and honesty which can't save him from great dis
A book about the three Jordache siblings Rudolph, Gretchen and Thomas with charakters that couldn't be more different from one another.
Born into an everything than well off family of an avaricious father who immigrated from Germany to America after the first world war and an Irish careworn mother they are raised without any love and lots of reproaches.

Rudi is the parent's favourite child, the eyeball of the family. He's intelligent, ambitious and calculating (not in a bad way, but still...)

So sad I didn't read it when it was a huge success back in the 90's because now, even when I really enjoyed, it seemed to me a little old fashioned. It's catchy and you get involved in it, but the style and the story itself seems so... 90's! The typical american story of success, with the "dark" side of poverty and failure, portrayed in the "poor man". This last one, Thomas, ended up being, in my opinion, the most wonderful character. Not only because of his final sacrifice, but because he seeme ...more
Steven Kent
Like so many Americans in the 70s, I fell into Shaw's grasp after seeing the mini-series version of Rich Man, Poor Man. As I understand it, this was the first mini series. It was soon followed by Roots, Winds of War, about a dozen Sidney Sheldon stories, and more.

After seeing the mini series I read the book and found fell in love with it. This is the story of two brothers, one is a good student, a natural leader, and destined for the good life. The other is a trouble maker and a gifted fighter.

Shahr Baran
این کتاب را من با نام داراوندار ترجمه اقای مهدی افشار خواندم ..رمانی جذاب وخوشخوان از داستانهای امریکایی ..
داستان با جنگ جهانی دوم به سال 1945 آغاز میشود ..داستان واقعگراست ویک خانواده امریکایی را به نمایش میکشد .خانواده ای که در پی یک سری حوادث در روابط پنهان واشکار با بیرون وجامعه پیوند میخورند .در نهایت کیفیت وجودی جامعه امریکایی را برای ما نشان میدهند ..یعنی نویسنده باز افرینی واقعیت میکند ایرون شاو با زبردستی وتوانایی خاص نفسیات خانوداه جورداش را در بخش های جداگانه که در عین حال به طور قدرت
At the time that I read this, way back in high school days, I’m sure I would’ve given it the full five stars. I hadn’t thought much about it since. Then, a few weeks ago, as I was reminiscing about it with my culturally astute wife, her comment was something like, “Oh yea, wasn’t that a night-time soap?” Thinking back, I suppose it was. They made a mini-series out of it that featured a young Nick Nolte as the black sheep brother – the edgier one, quick with his fists.

I recall getting caught up
Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya

I read the book in Russian, and span through its 500+ pages in a couple of days: it is such an easy, vivid read, and the characters really drew me in. I kept on expecting more drama, though, more of conclusion... I guess, the genius of the book is in the characters, who, with their strengths and weaknesses are just people. They are not "archetypes" but simple people, traumatized by the childhood in different degrees and coping with it through their lives as they can and see possible. I liked Rud
This is another one I pulled off my dad's bookshelf when I was maybe 17 or 18. I remember there were some racey sex scenes. At my (ahem) tender age I was more than a little shocked either of my parents would have anything like that on their bookshelves, and surprised they didn't mind my reading it too. Other than the sex, I remember very little about this book, except they made a TV mini-series about it in which several important parts were left out (like the sex seens) and characters were combi ...more
In my edition, this is only the first volume of Poor Man, Rich Man. It was interesting so far, but I am rather unsure about the novel and I will try not to judge it definitively. My main challenge so far is to identify the main book message or premise. I will wait for the second volume to tell for sure if the premise exists or not. So far, it seems that the first volume may be considered more a descriptive novel for Americas in the late 40s. To conclude, in terms of novel's premise, I must rate ...more
The story is engrossingly written, as the narration is refracted through the thoughts of the main characters (the Jordache family), though written in third person.
The first figures of the rich and the poor men are Boylan and Axel Jordache which both influence the three children in their ways – the first through his money and power, and the other – through the impure, bad blood they share and the environment he was able to provide for them during their growing. The second figures are the two brot
Amanda Spacaj-Gorham
I read this one and its sequel back in high school (back in the 80's) and I'm surprised how much I remember from the book. It was probably the raciest book I'd read at the time, perhaps the shock that my mom had books like this(taken from the family book shelf) helped the rest of the novel stay fresh in my mind...perhaps it was all Shaw's talent which preserved passages so well. I really should re-read it and see how it strikes me now.

I can't say objectively if it's me today giving it 5 stars f
Read this in 1976 while I was vacationing in Nice in the south of France. I can't describe how real that story was to me on many levels, mostly an emotional one though. I especially had a sense of dejavu when I read that part of the story line that takes place in exactly the same location on the Mediterranean where I was staying at the time.

I count this book among my favorites of all time, not only because Mr.Shaw is a superb story weaver but his characters are uncannily realistic and well craft
The book is true, hard and cruel. It has no happy ending, but it's okay, because as hard to believe, human's life doesn't end happily. American dream that came true, French dream that came true. Poor are often unhappy and miserable, but wealth can't buy happiness as well. Money change people, either in a good or a bad way. How is it, to be a part of a difficult family? Characters change during the book, and a reader changes with them. It's true saga, worth of reading.
Artem Huletski
Роман о людях, выбирающих разные дороги, о неоднозначности суждений и представлений о счастье. Кому "американская мечта", кому берег Франции. А ещё о настоящих поступках, которые могут искупить всё, так же, как неблаговидные поступки могут всё перечеркнуть.
A bit heavy on the soap, but always liked this one -- particularly the character of Tom Jordache. (Portrayed in the TV mini-series by Nick Nolte, back in the day when he was Joe Cool on-a-stick. What happened Nick?)
I found the book to be very long and boring, but somehow the ending saves everything. I sure rather read books that I love from the first page, but at least this one had an ending that made it worth while.
Regarding struggles and the coming together of an immigrant family living through the Great Depression and how their fortunes change through hard work and caring for each other.
This book affected me strongly as a pre-teen, which is why I rated it 5 stars.
Mark Stone
There's no real plot here since Rich Man, Poor Man tells the story of two brothers and a sister that begins with them as teenagers and what happens in their adult lives after the end of World War II. This is--to put it as plainly and as strongly as I can--a tremendous story that engrosses the reader. It is full of interesting, complicated characters that seem real and the writing style is...whew, yeah, so GOOD. I can't say enough about the quality of writing.

And CANNOT WAIT to read the sequel "B
This eminently readable novel made me reluctant to do anything else for the entirety of the time I read it. At work, in my ceramics class, even walking the dogs, I was thinking about the characters, their lives, their tragedies, curious for their futures, hopeful for their success. The novel’s chapters (including Goodreads comments) largely focus on the brothers, Tom and Rudy; I, however, found Gretchen’s story quite enthralling. My only detraction from the novel would be that, while it touches ...more
Irina Silaeva
This is a story about family emigrated from Germany to America. Axel Jordache is father of this family, despot and tyrant. His wife Mary Pease and his three kids dream to leave his house. Five characters and five strange people - they don't look like family or relatives.
Gretchen is the eldest child. She looks like shy and smart girl who helps in hospital. But under her pretty face and beautiful body is fallen woman! She becomes the lover of one rich man and change men during all her life! At t
I read this book during my Junior year in high school,1972. This book of fiction, above all others, left a deep and permanent impression with me.

Its a never-ending ride. I believe it would be a huge injustice to label the book a soap-opera. I am not particularly fond of soap operas.

Lots of drama to be sure. Buts it more than a story about people. Its about success,redemption,heartbreak,love,love lost, death. You find yourself rooting for individuals as you become intwined within the story.

I ha
Fenixbird SandS
Oct 23, 2007 Fenixbird SandS rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Youth Generational HIstorical Fiction
One of my all-time favorites!! It was risque (in parts) for its time remember??

How do you describe a classic?

The ages at which I read the following books is half of the impact they made upon me.

The Talisman by Peter Straub & Stephen King
Read during my early teen years & showed me
how fear of progress can set a people's back
and equally instilled a unique perspective
on the advances of technology

Rich Man, Poor Man By Irwin Shaw
Recommended for those who perhaps led a somewhat
WOW! That was a fascinating read! I've never read a long book before, which continuously transforms and successfully surprises the reader all the time. The main characters were illustrated brilliantly and their personalities did have a lot of depth. It's definitely neither a happy book nor one with a happy end, but at the end of the day life is hard. And it is particularly hard for the people of the story. Unfortunately people with similar stories do exist and I personally find the book as an im ...more
Interesting saga which follows the Jordasche family from the 1940's through the late 1960's. Rudy, Gretchen, and Tom all have their own issues, vices, and triumphs as Shaw skillfully transports us through their lives. I had watched the miniseries first on demand from the 1970's, and then read the book, so I immediately identified with the characters and their circumstances. The TV series took some liberties with the book, such as taking away sibling Gretchen and merging her character with Rudy's ...more
This was a good read, but a little too soap-opera-ish for my taste. I thought it was a quick read, but contained a lot of melodrama, which I do not like. Shaw skipped back and forth between the 3 main characters (all siblings; two sons and one daughter), and something was lost with all that skipping around. The specifics provided in the beginning about Rudy, Tom and Gretchen were great, but time passes, and the author provides less details--it seems as the characters lost touth with one another, ...more
Engrossing story, excellent writing. Shaw really knew how to expose the flaws of people; he portrayed his character's lives in a very realistic (and depressing) way. Only quibbles: almost all of the female characters were very unlikeable (were selfish, aloof ice princesses, b*tches, shrews, drunks, etc.) and the story had a very unsatisfying ending.
Хубава и смислена книга, но ми дойде твърде дълга и битова. Освен това, през цялото време имах чувството, че чета някаква качествена версия на "Дързост и красота". Твърде обикновена и реалистична. И, да, наясно съм, че точно това й е силата, но не затова аз сядам да чета лирература. Стилът на Шоу пък е невероятно скучен и безличен.
Well... I dont know. It was an interesting book, the characters had a good development (I liked that Rudolph grew more human with his age for example), but mostly it was about sex and drinking.

There were lots of moments, when situation could have gone much worse, but didnt, so the ending was odd for me. It had some wise thoughts, but for book so long I expected some more. Also some of the stories could have been developed more, like Jeene for example. It is still a nice book.
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Shaw was born Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff in the South Bronx, New York City, to Russian Jewish immigrants. Shaw was a prolific American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author whose written works have sold more than 14 million copies. He is best known for his novels, The Young Lions (1948) and Rich Man Poor Man (1970).

His parents were Rose and Will. His younger brother, David Shaw
More about Irwin Shaw...
The Young Lions Beggarman, Thief Bread Upon the Waters Nightwork Evening in Byzantium

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