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Rich People Things: Real-Life Secrets of the Predator Class

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  176 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
"Social criticism at its scorching-hot best."—Barbara Ehrenreich

"Think H.L. Mencken crossed with Jon Stewart."—The Phoenix

In Rich People Things, Chris Lehmann lays bare the various dogmas and delusions that prop up plutocratic rule in the post-meltdown age. It's a humorous and harrowing tale of warped populism, phony reform, and blind deference to the nation's financial el
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Haymarket Books (first published September 15th 2010)
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Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well, that was depressing. This is a collection of short essays on current events that come across as angry, hyper-literate rants (a popular format for modern political writers who – for whatever reason – are disinclined toward long-form journalism). Successful efforts are often more funny than not; this book isn’t merely unfunny – it’s dyspeptic.

I should be clear on this point: Chris Lehmann hits the bulls-eye on a pretty regular basis. He’s clearly a smart guy with a great vocabulary and excel
Chad Post
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It took a lot of sittings to make my way through this book. Not because of anything with the book itself--it's absolutely brilliant--but because it made me so god damn agry everything from the Supreme Court to Ayn Rand's influence (I already hated that &%^*# but still) to the ideas of the free market and meritocracy . . . I honestly believe that everyone should read this book. Although it's pre-OWS, it really nails down the fundamental issues at play in society today in terms of income inequ ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting for me because I fundamentally agree with many of the author's observations, but felt frustrated that his essays rarely moved beyond observation and criticism to what I would call analysis. At one point, I found myself thinking "Damn, he really hates rich people!" I was looking for more insight than vitriol and didn't feel like the book delivered. As others have noted, Lehmann is clearly a very smart guy who writes well. If I'd come to his book with a more accurate sens ...more
Jan 11, 2011 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Witty bordering on pretentious cultural criticism, focused on skewering the things that matter most to terrible people on the Upper East Side. Chris Lehmann is a fantastic writer nonetheless. Will update when I finish.
Erin Stuhlsatz
I do strongly recommend about 2/3 of this book (I definitely skipped the chapters about things/people I hadn't heard of...guess I'm not rich enough [yet]). Mostly it was really interesting to read Lehmann's analysis of the ways the Democratic Party has become a party of the rich, leaving behind its commitment to the working poor. I enjoyed his writing (and his criticism of Malcolm Gladwell) very much.
Tim O'Hearn
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit that I Googled "rich people book."

The author's vocabulary is unbelievable. How Chris Lehmann manages to wrangle all these big words into twenty six beautifully flowing essays is remarkable. The book is impossible to put down, even when you disagree.

The general tone is a bit pompous, sometimes annoyingly so, but his critiques are deeply thought provoking. And, most importantly, refreshing. He leaves no stone unturned. As I picked through these bundles of words, I discovered new ways to lo
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was walking on Pearl Street in Boulder, Co and saw a book store called Left Hand Books, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit, progressive bookstore providing access to alternative viewpoints and difficult-to-obtain sources of information. This description grabbed my attention so I strolled inside and could not believe what I saw - better than anything I experienced in that liberal oasis on Long Island Sound! After perusing the stock I stumbled onto the "just released display table" and picked up t ...more
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
Ah, this is good. Read his essays on the Awl for a sense of Lehmann's style (wry, full of facts, nimble vocabulary) and then imagine those but about broader subjects- Libertarianism, Ayn Rand, Reality Television, The New York Times. And so on. I came away with an even sharper sense of injustice about the way capitalism and its ills have been marketed to us for the past x decades. The essay format is ideal, too, for giving a sense of how the mindset has influenced so many aspects of modern life, ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Much ranting, little analysis. Like listening to your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving dinner.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I *did* like it. I know, I know...2-stars. I liked it, but it doesn't date well. This may have been very eye-opening in 2010, but having read it in 2017, you'd have to have been living in a bubble for the past couple years to not consider the entirety Captain Obvious fodder.
Jill Blevins
Annemarie Cox’s husband writing about rich people in a snarky tone should be exactly up my alley, right? Nope.
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Lehmann is funny and sharp-tongued. This collection of essays on various "rich people things" lets you know the whats and whys of their subjects, ridiculing the foibles of the rich but also of those who aspire to their station.
Jun 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I have the feeling that Chris Lehmann started writing this book with the intention of a) Enjoying a good laugh at the bad taste of the rich and famous (an the wannabee groupies), and b) Informing the public of the very real and serious unfair advantages the wealthy of America enjoy over the rest of us. Or something like that. However, what he delivered with a disorganized package of personal gripes, once-over-lightly social analysis, and many, many run on sentences. I bought this book, for the d ...more
Jean-Philippe Michel
Why do the rich stay rich? Read this book if you want to find out.
This book was written beyond my reading level. If you aren’t familiar with American history, you might have to, like me, use google quite often when reading. Despite these challenges I persevered and learned some new things. The takeaway message is that several pillars of our society contribute to income inequality and prevent us from creating a more just world.
These pillars can be explained by the many lies we tell ourselves. Th
a.h.s. boy
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A series of compelling, if disheartening, essays on the idols of the upper crust. Lehmann is clearly knowledgable, and has some valuable insights, but at times his snarky tone belies the fact that he's likely preaching to the choir. Which is fine, but worth noting.

He spends less time developing a systematic critique than he does ranting about the seemingly-self-evident absurdity of it all -- as if it were almost annoying to even have to point this stuff out. (The chapter on the Supreme Court, fo
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I decided to read through this reading list: So here I am. There are actually several reading lists I'll need to get through in order to survive the next four (??) years. This book was fairly depressing and brought up a lot of good points about why the rich stay rich and how ingrained this has become in American society. DT himself was called out in this book (written in 2010) as a wish fulfillment reality TV star and one of the ones who made off with a f ...more
Dan Sharber
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
i was expecting this book to be a wacky skewering of the rich a la mark steel. it was not. it was however very good with many funny parts. but it was much more serious than i was expecting. and more depressing. lehman does a spectacular job of digging below the surface of the ubiquitous things we think we know everything about - from the constitution to jersey shore, even taking some time to take some much deserved shots at malcolm gladwell. he applies a class analysis to many things we think of ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it liked it
you guys i wanted to love this so much. and mostly i did. but it's been a while since i read it and i remember rolling my eyes about a million times. this is preaching to the choir. which can be cathartic but i wanted more! use that breezy and relate-able style to convert! help us! ?? is that totally unrealistic??
Hank Stuever
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Funny where it needs to be, profane where it needs to be, insightful and smart pretty much on every page, even where it gets occasionally redundant. Most enjoyed the chapters on Wired, David Brooks, the Prosperity Gospel, Ayn Rand, the iPad, Frank Gerhy. The wonkier stuff, well, that's always a trudge for me. This is one of those books where you should feel free to skip around and find a groove.
Oct 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Before reading: Angry and doubtful that things will ever change.
After reading: Mad as hell and sure that things will never change.

Sometimes it's better to leave well enough alone. Not Lehmann's fault. Just life.
Brian King
devastating polemic towards to the ruling class.

although mostly polemic with less depth to the analysis than one already steeped in the lingo might want
Lawrence A
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Enjoyable polemic, laced with cultural criticism, against plutocrats and malefactors of wealth. Not recommended for budding arbitrageurs.
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfectly snarky condemnation of all that is wrong with capitalism.
Jan 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
uninspired and takes itself too seriously
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
Interesting essays. They were a hit and miss with me. I did enjoy the Ayn Rand one; that was rather ballsy considering her "legion" of fans.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
too dense, used the phrase "just-in-time" as a strange epithet too often, and fell victim to "this is bad because I said so!". it was ok.
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Feb 10, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Dec 06, 2013
Christopher Daniel
rated it really liked it
Apr 15, 2012
Tom Beaver
rated it it was amazing
Jun 27, 2016
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