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Generation Wealth

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A highly anticipated monograph from the internationally acclaimed documentary photographer and filmmaker

Lauren Greenfield: Generation Wealth is both a retrospective and an investigation into the subject of wealth over the last twenty-five years. Greenfield has traveled the world - from Los Angeles to Moscow, Dubai to China - bearing witness to the global boom-and-bust economy and documenting its complicated consequences. Provoking serious reflection, this book is not about the rich, but about the desire to be wealthy, at any cost.

504 pages, Hardcover

First published May 15, 2017

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About the author

Lauren Greenfield

7 books76 followers
Lauren Greenfield is an American artist, documentary photographer, and documentary filmmaker. She has published three photographic monographs, directed four documentary films, exhibited in museums, and published in magazines and other publications.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
August 5, 2018
Lauren Greenfield is an amazing woman, a documentary photographer and filmmaker. I read this (well, not every word of the large 515 page book), in anticipation of her new documentary film Generation Wealth. In a sense, this book/film/series of exhibitions is the culmination of her work of more than 25 years, which I might summarize as an examination of consumer culture, of the drive to wealth that consumes especially this country, though it is clearly also a worldwide phenomenon. She joins many others looking at greed, of course. Conspicuous consumption, killing us, killing and killing the planet.

I saw her documentary film The Queen of Versailles, which I highly, highly recommend as a disgusting and horrific example of a couple who built a $75 million dollar estate and went bankrupt in the process. I thought when I read it of Hunter S. Thompson in his rage against the excesses of American culture in such works as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I also read Girl Culture, a documentary photography project, which focuses of course on girls and the drive to be rich and beautiful.

Has it always been thus, in this country? Maybe. But in Greenfield's view, in the last 25 years we are seeing something we have never seen before, something rapacious, an end in itself to pursue wealth for wealth's sake to the exclusion of anything else.

In this book we have amazing photographs from a range of our culture, those seeking fame and fortune, and also including those--as in hundreds of thousands in the recession--who failed, who crashed and burned. She not only photographs or films her subjects--and it is a tribute to her powers of persuasion that she can get so many of them to give permission, but they surely have no shame--but also interviews them and shares their testimonies.

This work is so important. It is hard to read because it shines such a disturbing light on American (and other) consumer culture and greed. It is not fun to read, but it is amazing. Get it from your library.

Here's a link to her work, which I highly recommend your checking out:

http://www.generation-wealth.com
Profile Image for Romany.
659 reviews
January 16, 2018
Beautiful photos, each one horrifying for different reasons.
Profile Image for J.
339 reviews3 followers
September 23, 2017
Generation Wealth is beautiful, hideous, disturbing, and completely captivating. Lauren Greenfield accurately captures the ethos of consumer capitalism and the way it warps human behavior. The first thought that entered my mind after closing the book is the Bible verse, " For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Profile Image for Tara.
61 reviews6 followers
October 31, 2017
Lauren Greenfield has compiled the most captivating photography book on: wealth, pop culture, and consumerism. Her subjects range from Hollywood elite to gang members. The photos are captivating and the interviews add an additional dimension. I never spent even 100th the time on any other type of photography book EVER! I missed her show in earlier summer in LA and was happy to buy this book because it is a compilation of all her work (which is amazing). I normally would swing in the library and peruse this type of thing however, knew after seeing the number of pages that this was going to be way too intense for a quite stop over at the library. This book was something that I wanted to have in my personal collection. It is beyond a prop for ones' coffee table however, I do suggest that it is something you may want to put out to generate interesting conversation (if you have those types of friends). I am yelling out to all people that are intrigued by social anthropological themes to get this book. Not only will you not digest this once and put it away but it will take you some serious time to digest even first time through. A few pages can easily eat an hour (it is over 450 pgs!) which is how you should delve into fine wine or very rich dessert. Consume in small quantities to fully digest and appreciate. I thought it would be interesting (which it obviously is), however, was BLOWN AWAY by the content and depth of the aforementioned topics. I really was thinking about the social context even when not reading the book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (also a fan of her film work) !!!
Profile Image for flannery.
360 reviews23 followers
June 2, 2017
help this is my favorite book! i'm editing this just to emphatically recommend it to everyone but esp. rachel & lisa. "I read the federalist papers. If I want to work 100 hours a week and destroy my relationships that's my perogative." This book was good for my mental health because it answered a few nagging questions of mine, "What's wrong with everyone?" "How come they seem to be having so much more fun than me?" "Why is everything easier for so-and-so?" You'll have to read this book to find out the answer, spoiler, it's money.

"I'd rather be dumb then be a slut, but I would rather be a slut than fat or ugly"
Profile Image for Robert.
318 reviews8 followers
December 25, 2017
After reading this, you'll need a shower to wash the patina of human greed and stupidity (second-hand, of course) from your skin... it's that powerful.
Profile Image for MNBooks.
318 reviews
August 18, 2017
Wow, this was a worthwhile read! I requested the book from my local library and when I went to pick it up I thought, "Holly 💩--this book is ridiculously big!!" I think that was kind of the point, though. It's excessively large--but it's a book about wealth, and enough never being enough. So how big is too big? How rich is too rich?

I loved the photography, but I really enjoyed reading the interviews with the people in those photos. It was fascinating to see how even the super rich were acknowledging that that life isn't normal--maybe they are even overwhelmed by that life.

We also saw that greed and desire isn't just an American problem--it's global. Iceland seems to be the only country that went back to embracing their heritage after the 2008 recession--by being themselves, they are now a top tourism destination.

There's a lot to think about with Generation Wealth... we are in an unsustainable path. Stopping and saying "I'm happy where I'm at right now" is critical. However, What if college for my kids is really going to be 500K in 15 years? Would life be easier if I just had more?? This book will leave you with more questions than answers and it may feel uncomfortable.
Profile Image for Joanna.
593 reviews7 followers
September 14, 2017
I came to this book not knowing how much I already liked Ms. Greenfield's work on The Queen of Versailles and the "Like a Girl" ad she shot for Always. I admire her analysis of our current society of consumption, and while I don't always agree with her points, I fear for our society in general after reading the book. I am also particularly glad that we know that we won't be raising our son in LA, as the level of consumption there is particularly scary.
Profile Image for Jill Meyer.
1,164 reviews104 followers
September 10, 2017
Lauren Greenfield has published a coffee table book compilation of her photograph and video work done since the late 1980's. She has followed the idea of wealth - who has it, who wants it, who earns it, who inherits it - for the past 30 or so years. Her work has been displayed in museums and art galleries and on film. Perhaps her most famous piece is a movie called "The Queen of Versailles", a grotesque but strangely charming look at a couple who is building their "dream home" in Florida. The husband and his trophy-wife have about eleventy-seven children, all cared for by their own nannies, while the mother shops maniacally, and the father hides in his study, doing business. The documentary is viewable on Amazon, and Greenfield includes stills from the movie.

But Greenfield looks at many other groups of the already-wealthy, as well as those who seek wealth. Does wealth confer class? Sometimes, if the definition of "class" is a "grill" of diamonds in a person's mouth, it does. Lauren Greenfield is fairly quiet on the definition of "wealth" and the ramifications of the acquisition and holding of wealth. Many of the people in her pictures look a bit sad - or is that my projection? I don't know and Greenfield doesn't follow up on many of the people in the photographs. That's okay, wealth - like fame - is often fleeting...

By the way, this is a very, VERY large book.
Profile Image for Brandon Forsyth.
879 reviews143 followers
December 1, 2019
An absolute masterpiece. This is a true life’s work from one of our most brilliant cultural examiners that will force you to examine your own ideas around money, ambition, and capitalism. A piece of investigative photojournalism, a brilliant artistic statement, and a series of deeply empathetic character studies, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Run, don’t walk, to pick this up.
Profile Image for Julia Fitzsimmons.
9 reviews1 follower
January 18, 2019
I loved this book! This book, like no other, helps me understand the dysfunction that materialism creates in American culture. The pictures are amazing and unforgettable. I read the preface to every chapter and every caption. I also saw the documentary, and was deeply affected by it. If you have children, please read this book. It will help you understand the pressures on our kids. Thank you, Lauren Greenfield, for your excellent work.
Profile Image for Jamie.
621 reviews4 followers
April 8, 2018
A beautiful, comprehensive look at greed, overspending, wealthy one-upsmanship. Both astounding and nauseating. Society values money over everything else... and this is the result. Money money money....
Profile Image for Helen Geng.
640 reviews5 followers
January 11, 2018
This is an important book, more for content than for artistic style.
The author also turns her lens on herself(in the photo where she's very pregnant) & her son.
Profile Image for Karen.
520 reviews3 followers
April 1, 2018
A hard book to read. Reading about this type of consumption is sobering. A good book to reflect on my own trajectory.
Profile Image for juliemcl.
133 reviews4 followers
April 9, 2018
This book weighs a ton and took me a month to finish. I really pored over every image and the accompanying text. It’s like a guide to what happened to us. Chilling.
1,252 reviews18 followers
April 27, 2018
With images and interviews this shares youths who have been exposed to wealth at an early age and it may have altered their sense of reality. Swearing and bare skin. Surreal. Famous faces appear.
Profile Image for Mai Mohamed.
Author 1 book157 followers
February 3, 2023
كتاب ضخم وجميل لمحبي التصوير والفن عامة 😌
المصورة Laureen جمعت تقريبًا كل الأفلام الوثائقية والصور المميزة اللي صورتها وحكايات الناس اللي ف الصور ف الكتاب ده
ممتع ✨
Profile Image for Michelle Tackabery.
Author 1 book8 followers
July 9, 2018
A fascinating retrospective of Greenfield's work, with an insightful foreword. Greenfield's full biography and a timeline of her artistic work, publications and shows is included, as well as an essay in which she explains how she stumbled onto the path of filming the wealthy as well as those privileged by status and the appearance of prosperity, whether or not they were actually in possession of actual financial wealth.

Unlike most monographs, this is a true "book" in the sense that her work is grouped into chapters, or themes, with images grouped together by theme rather than appearing chronologically or by "periods." This allows Greenfield to demonstrate how the lessons that excess teaches tend not to be passed down to new generations. Viewing the continuous cycles of excess to radical poverty and back again, and the empty pursuit of more, more, more, and bling, bling, bling, is both fascinating and disheartening in equal measure. As such this book is exemplary of our times. It would serve as a time capsule of the last 50 years, should the American way of life disappear soon--all the historians of the future would need is a copy of this book to explain the fall of the United States.

The cover material, as well, is not glossy, as you might expect from such a book . It's a very hard cover, easily bruised. Our library's copy has become well tarnished, so it seems that this book just can't stop telling its story. I can only conclude that Greenfield had her say in the choice of materials used in the book, as much as the colors of the pages introducing each chapter theme--a dirty, tawdry yellow-gold, matching, perhaps, the cheap gold plate one could buy on the sidewalk, or the gold of champagne--both colors disturbingly similar. In the final analysis, from far away, can one tell the difference between the two?

Other reviewers have spoken about the weight of this book. It is impossible to hold this book and peruse it because of its weight. One is forced to put it on a table, chair, couch or other support to go through it--unless, perhaps, you are a weightlifter. This tome will defy your attempts to read it like any other book, even any other coffee table book. It is so big, so bulky, so weighty, and so ridiculous, that its point is made just by its existence. But do it. Reading every word would take several months--so I plan to buy a copy, and return the one I just finished to the library.
Profile Image for Amelia.
264 reviews6 followers
February 3, 2018
Lauren Greenfield has directed two of my favorite documentaries Thin and Queen of Versailles, which both deal with class, wealth, consumerism, and the chasing the American Dream. The lens with which she views her subjects is not one of provocation and exploitation, but rather empathetic and normalizing. I loved this book. It was one of my favorite purchases from 2017. The images of extreme wealth and others trying to emulate it and risk everything to achieve it; made me reflect on my own consumerism, my own socioeconomic status, and my own posturing within my middle class lifestyle. I must admit I am a little obsessed with the intersection of gender, race, and class- especially class, and this book hit all my high points. I am really excited to see this movie.
133 reviews
June 30, 2017
Incredible book!
Greenfield does such a comprehensive job of examining the role of money, big money, that I was really shaken.
She connects excessive materialism, work, sex, corruption, and their effects on several generations, levels of society, and cultures far more effectively than any source I've ever seen, because she does it through pix and interviews.
Near the end, she talks to uber-rich people who've seriously questioned their addiction to wealth (mostly after they've spent time in jail or gone bust, it's true.)
I could see someone running a class around all of the topics in here. It's totally immersing.
55 reviews2 followers
August 8, 2018
This is a heavy book, both physically (it weighs over 7 lbs) and psychologically. It's a compilation of photographs and interviews taken by Greenfield over the past 3 decades as a social study of different aspects of wealth. Conspicuous consumption, body image, aging, the cult of celebrity and gender are a few of the sections explored, along with the human cost of capitalism, greed and narcissism worldwide. I found it equally fascinating and disturbing. Although it's weight makes it a challenge to read, I found it was well worth it.
12 reviews
January 3, 2018
After seeing the show at International Center for Photography, I decided to get the book, which offers more content, more images, more complexity. Teaching Visual Culture, I made my students attend this show and they were blown away. The book will be an ongoing resource about this moment in time when the American Empire lost all perspective and with a self-inflated ego destroyed the American dream.
Profile Image for Bill.
330 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2018
Fascinating and disgusting. Points toward LA as the epicenter of all that is wrong with America’s greedy, me first culture, and shows its spread to the world. The introductory text, which examines this book’s subjects, also seems to explain how Trump got elected. Photos of people whose goal is nothing but personal satisfaction and excessive accumulation, fixated on physical beauty and/or ostentatious displays (and whose commentary often reveals them to be sad and unsatisfied).
1 review
December 8, 2018
Definitely recommended as a gift for those thinkers in your life...really, EVERYONE should read this masterpiece by Lauren Greenfield. It took me a while to get through it, but was compelling reading throughout. Incredible subject interviews, stories, photos, and insights.
Profile Image for Janet.
2,014 reviews20 followers
January 2, 2018
Well documented account of excess. Disgusting.
Profile Image for Sarah.
240 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2018
Huge book, but love the concept of showing the different views of wealth and how some people are way to wealthy compared to others who are living on the street.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews

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