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Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  1,020 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews

The recent explosion of wealth has created a new breed of multimillionaires. Richistan takes readers inside a rarified world to see how blue-collar-workers-turned-billionaires are earning, spending, and living. From "Butler School," where domestics are specially trained to serve the newly wealthy, to self-help groups for coping with the strains of $10 million incomes, you'

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Published February 5th 2008 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published May 29th 2007)
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Oct 14, 2008 Naeem rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maura (perhaps), Sara-Maria, Steph
There ought to be a way to give a book two scores. If there were I would give this both a 2 and a 4.

I have been looking for a book that would update things I read in the 70s; books that emerge from the C. Wright Mills school of political economic sociology. For example, Mills' Power Elite, Domhoff's higher circles and Lundberg's Rich and Super Rich. This book would seem to fit into this collection.

If Frank is correct, he also updates my thinking. I was/am still working under the influence o
Mar 21, 2008 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know...I enjoyed the book, but not in the way that I expected. I thought I would be like, "Wow, that would be so awesome to be rich. I would do that and this and that!" But instead I kinda felt bad for these people.

Ok, I didn't really enjoy the feeling bad part, but I enjoyed thinking " life is pretty awesome. I have two cats and neither of them wears a gold and diamond collar." I say that because one of them, Rocco, tends to lose his collar several times a year, usually just after
Todd N
May 18, 2011 Todd N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
I have always been fascinated by wealth and social status, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I am fascinated by my twisted understanding of wealth and social status since I don't have any direct experience with either.

This book, a very quick and light read, provides some good long (almost voyeuristic) looks into the wealthy, how they got there, and what they are thinking. Mr. Frank reports on "wealth" for the Wall Street Journal. He apparently knows his beat very well, though I wond
Aug 22, 2007 MaryJo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-top
I am fascinated by the growing problem of income inequality in the US and this book drives home just how out of whack it's become. The author, a Wall Street Journal reporter, covers all facets of the lives of the ultra-wealthy (those with $10 million or more in assets) and shows how they live such different and removed lives from the rest of us that they've essentially created their own country, which he calls "Richistan." The author almost makes fun of this group, with his tone of voice, but it ...more
Scott Porch
Jan 07, 2009 Scott Porch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Americans are enamored with the wealthy.

We take national pride in the rags-to-riches story, the mom-and-pop store that makes it big. We say things like “only in America” and call the United States a “land of opportunity.” We value the better mousetrap and laud its inventor with gobs of money.

But those are more the marks of success than of wealth. What really fascinates us is the money. We drive by McMansions and wonder what the owners do for a living, how much money they make, and how they spend
Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch

This book is fairly well covered, it seems to me, by other Goodreads reviews.

I’d only note that it had, in my reading, much in common with an imagined television program on the same subject: a similar mix of vivid anecdote (though the vividness here is usually denoted by the number of trailing zeroes rather than visual impact); condensed vignettes of financial rise (or more uncommonly, of fall); short sympathetic interviews juxtaposed with, if not exactly taking place in, glamorous settings (th
A quick and funny read about the new ultra-rich; how they made their money, how they live, and how they want to change the world.

Summary from Random House:
The rich have always been different from you and me, but this revealing and funny journey through “Richistan” entertainingly shows that they are more different than ever. Richistanis have 400-foot-yachts, 30,000-square-foot homes, house staffs of more than 100, and their own “arborists.” They’re also different from Old Money, and have torn dow
Sep 12, 2009 Thomasin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Warning: don't read this book if you're prone to jealous tendencies. As I am.

Well, that warning is probably going over board. (If you went overboard, would you want a basic 12 foot ski-boat? Or a 100 foot yacht? If you'd "settle" for the 100-footer, you're no decent member of Richistan. Richistanis are going for the 400+ yachts, no less.)

Go ahead and read and dream about the 'what if's. And note that one way to get into the lives of the fabulously wealthy if you're not actually rich yourself i
Mar 19, 2010 Mykle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was handy for what i needed it for, but it lacked teeth. Robert Frank writes for the WSJ and can't really question the dominant paradigms like the rest of us can. The best he can manage is to portray the the ultra-wealthy and their problems in a way that makes them seem kind of pathetic, or perhaps cute, like tiny exotic puppies. Which is something. There's something here, for sure, if you're wondering how the other 0.3 percent lives. The anecdotes are to die for.

But just the term "American
Regina Mclaughlin
In a time of recession, Richistan offers a morally-instructive and strangely disturbing retrospective of "the wealth boom and the lives of the new rich."

Meet yesterday's dot-com millionaires, creepy investment bankers and of course the hereditarily loaded. Languish in their enclaves, eavesdrop on their posturing and bickering, and observe their material fetishes. But make sure you flip present tense to past, for many of these mighty have by now fallen. Or at least one hopes.

Shelley tells of a a
Feb 23, 2009 Chrishna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I learned that I could've gone to butler school and walked into a six figure salary upon graduation. And it would been a third of the cost of law school! The new rich certainly inhabit a different world than I do. This was written in 2007, and some of the richest inhabitants of richistan are now more famous for running their banks into billions of dollars of debt. A follow-up on who has any assets left now would be interesting, but my husband summarized this book well by saying, "It was MTV crib ...more
Mar 01, 2008 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first thing I noticed about this book is that it is about a half
inch narrower in its width than typical hardcovers. The editor,
like a desperate, talentless high school student, changed the margins a bit in
order to extend the content into a more respectable book-appropriate
length. The size manipulations notwithstanding, Robert Frank’s
Richistan is another decent non-fiction book illuminating another
fascinating American subculture.

Don’t confuse it with
Absurdistan, which also could have been the
Jun 04, 2008 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually finished this book a couple days ago. I wrote most of a review, then my computer froze up and I lost it. I have been putting off writing it again. This book dragged for me. I spent a long time reading it. Part of that was because I lost it for a few days on the back of downstairs toilet. I hardly ever use that bathroom.

Anyways, it's a book about the "new rich", as in, people who have made their fortunes within the last, I don't know, 20 years. It talks about their yachts, and their h
Tehsin Huda
Jan 04, 2017 Tehsin Huda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book on how the super-rich spend their money.
Jan 19, 2009 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who are interested in current affairs and economics
Recommended to Carrie by: Crystal
A book about the Noveau Riche in the USA. The past decade has seen a meteoric rise in the number of American millionaires. Driven by the financial markets and leveraged investments, America has seen the creation of 3 levels of high wealth.

1) Lower Rich:1 million in assets (7.5 million households)
2) Middle Rich: 10 million- 100 million (2 million households)
3) Upper Rich: 100 million -1 billion (in the thousands)

A good time to read this, as undoubtedly these numbers have been drastically effecte
Iowa City Public Library
It’s no secret that the rich have been getting richer. There are about 3 million millionaires in the US, about one percent of the population. Wall Street Journal columnist Robert Frank‘s conceit here, tho he doesn’t push it too far, is to examine the lives of the rich as if they lived in another country. They do form a separate society, with their own gated communities, clubs, stores, summer camps, and self-help groups. Richistan, moreover, has class divisions of its own. Upper class Richistan, ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who find "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" interesting but not detailed enough
Shelves: fun-nonfiction
An interesting but ultimately depressing book.

"Richistan" observes that America has been generating wealth and wealthy people at an amazing rate over the past 20 years and that this prodigious growth in both the numbers of the wealthy as well as the scale of their wealth has led to their becoming "a whole other country." It seems kind of funny to be reading it in the wake of the 2008 stock crash and the likely destruction of a large part of that wealth (a number of names in the book are recogniz
Jan 20, 2009 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of the book comes from the notion that really rich people in the U.S. live such different lives from the rest of us that, in a way, they are really living in a different country since they often aren't affected by many of the events and pressures that influence the lives of average Americans. The author profiles a sampling of the "new rich" & provides us outsiders with some insight into their lives. And their lives really are different from ours. One example that really stuck with ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is the "wealth writer" for the Wall Street Journal and is the only writer exclusively covering the New Wealth in America. He started covering this topic a couple of years ago and wrote articles in the WSJ that later evolved into the subject of the book. The basic instigator of the book, revealed in the opening, was a statistic on the number of millionaires doubling in the 1990s.

The book examines a new country - Richistani - populated by the new rich. There are three classes in Richist
An interesting sociological study of a segment of our society that gets too much and not enough attention all at once. The rich steer our public policy and government and economy in huge ways, yet we mostly see them on reality TV bragging about their $25,000 sunglasses and gift wrapping rooms. (And shadow yachts and "guest yachts".) The Occupy Movement put more of a spotlight on our defacto plutocracy, but the fact is, those of us non-Richistan citizens are overwhelmingly preoccupied with juggli ...more
Oct 24, 2013 Waseem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was a great book, very entertaining and insightful. Its an amazing reminder in so many aspects of life aswell as building a business. This should remind anyone especially if you are an entrepreneur of the sheer abundance of money there is out there flowing through even at the most difficult times. Money examples being shown from the most obscure niches and backgrounds is inspiring that was a great part for me in my journey to build my own long lasting streams of income

... also some im
Feb 12, 2012 Isabel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, non-fiction
I liked reading this book.
Towards its end it got a bit uninteresting because I am not much interested in certain details but all in all, it was a good read.

As I said in my first update: I am fascinated by all this wealth but I am very happy I don't have to be in their shoes. In a way, it's madness. They get rich through all the new technologies and the globalisation and amass literally hundreds of millions. They become great philantrophiests and yet, they still play the stupid game that is cal
Edwin B
Aug 02, 2009 Edwin B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was delicious reading for me, getting to know how the richest of the rich live (those who have net worths ranging from ten million to billions of dollars). It's sociological reading. I got to know who reside in this country of "Rich-istan". Their numbers grew dramatically in the last few years, fed by a "global river of money" seeking worthwhile investments that swelled exponentially in the last two decades with the emergence of new financing mechanisms. It's not the old moneyed, nor the fi ...more
Sep 08, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because I do a lot of fundraising for work and wanted to understand my donors better. The author is a Wall Street Journal reporter who invented his own sociological beat covering the new rich. The book is a pleasant surprise. It is not a glorification of the new rich but carefully explains their roots and mores; delving into topics as tax structure, the growth and role of IPOs and venture capital; and the dynamics of new money vs. old. The book divides Richistan into three leve ...more
The book's subtitle says it all: A Journey through the American Wealth Boom and the lives of the New Rich. Oh, and it is quite a journey that Wall Street Journal writer Robert Frank takes as he interviews, observes, and hangs out with the newly rich.

The title, of course, is a play on Rich and istan, which seems to be the suffix for every newly minted Middle-Eastern/post-Soviet nation that keeps confounding American geographers, school children, and even temporary White House occupants.

While this
This book is thought provoking. Some sections were nothing short of a disgusting display of gluttony. The Barbarians in the Ballroom and Size Really Does Matter chapters had me shaking my head in disbelief. I had no idea something like a shadow boat even existed!

I do think I fall in line with the idea that I don't begrudge "Richistanis" their wealth and good fortune. Frank did an excellent job of showing how driven many of the members of the new wealthy class are, but some of them just got lucky
Nov 16, 2008 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collection of statistics and anecdotes about the makeup and lives of America's uber-rich. It's a relatively short read that is more of an introduction and summary, rather than an in-depth study.

The most interesting thing that I took from this is that most of America's super-rich did not make the bulk of their fortune from inheritance. Sure, there are many of those people around -- and have been for years and years -- but since the 80's, there have been a large number of people tha
Katie Fowler
Richistan provided a fascinating look inside the lives of the super-wealthy. As Frank notes, the number of millionaires and billionaires in the United States is steadily growing, most from the ranks of self-made entrepreneurs. He also makes a good point when he says that the wealthy are a class that is somewhat unstudied. He touches on a number of interesting threads that run through the lives of the wealthy (e.g., hiring help, one-upsmanship in the arena of philanthropy and spending, deciding h ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the personal observations and facts that are liberally sown with abandon. It is definitely entertaining. This book should be read in conjunction with "who really cares" (AC Brooks). The microscopic view by the author distorts the reality that these are humans with all the frailties of us hoi polloi. It is definitely a step up from Vance Packard.

Reading reviews of this book, readers seem to think that riches should supply wisdom beyond what most of us have. "Suddenly rich", indicates that
I only wish I had thought of this idea (and been a New York Times reporter) first. It's brilliant because it's timely (there are more millionaires and billionaires than ever before) and the common people have always been fascinated with the lives of the wealthy.
I was just fascinated with this book in general. I especially loved the chapters on the Butler training industry and yachts. It was just interesting and thought-provoking to read about the extremely wealthy. It made me think about how or
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“The race to make more money to keep up with the rich, he says, is the reason Americans are spending less time with children and less time sleeping. It's also the reason Americans feel less happy, since happiness is partly determined by how well we're doing compared with those around us. The race, he said, will only get more destructive as the rich get richer and more numerous” 2 likes
“At a certain level of wealth, you care more about things like the environment and what's going to happen to later generations than preserving your own money.” 1 likes
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