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Rich People Things

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  209 ratings  ·  33 reviews
It’s never easy being rich: endless tax avoidance, the Sisyphean search for reliable domestic staff, the never-ending burden of surly stares from the Great Sea of the Unwashed as one goes about one’s rightful business. Toughest of all is simply keeping track of everything one owns. There’s so much of it. And personal possessions are just the beginning. You must keep a giml ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 15th 2010 by OR Books (first published September 15th 2010)
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3.27  · 
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 ·  209 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Tim O'Hearn
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Chris Lehman is angry. Sometimes he is SO angry, his sentences are a little hard to follow, but once you see what he is angry about, you can understand. He was there and paying attention during the Real Estate Meltdown when I was blithely listening to This American Life and thinking I had an understanding of things.

MAN. I got to get a handle on 20th century history one of these days.

For instance, the bit about Reagan and his dumb Star Wars program serving as a dispersal of funds in much the same
Jun 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Lehman is obviously very smart. He examines several issues that have relevancy to class conflict but are denied because of our society's refusal to acknowledge our class divisions. I found many of his arguments compelling but he did not offer a complete picture of the forces the very wealthy exert upon our political and social environment. I've been reading Jane Mayer's Dark Money which provides that picture. I also was a little annoyed with Lehmann's hifalutin language (in much the same way I g ...more
Chad Post
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Much ranting, little analysis. Like listening to your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving dinner.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely worth some of the interesting tidbits on which I was, well, minimally informed: the misinformation debacle that David Brooks perpetuated with his book Bobos in Paradise, for example, and the first chapter that gives context to the criticism levied by the anti-Federalists on the Constitution. Other sections are dated in their pertinence because many of the prophecies simply came to pass, but the scathing wit/mordant sassiness keep the book afloat. Granted it reads like a collection of ...more
I give 3 stars to the concept of this book and a few well-made points, but 2 for my total lack of enjoyment while reading it. For someone who is criticizing the plutocracy, his sentences are unnecessarily complicated, and his use of vocabulary and phrases makes me feel likes he's trying to prove how smart he is. (I do believe he is very smart, but it just comes across as pompous.) At one point he criticizes Ayn Rand's characters for being "swathed in layers of obscurantist jargon," but I feel li ...more
Shay Gabriel
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
He's not wrong, and some aspects of this book are illuminating. The problems are twofold:

1. Lehmann picked his topics with a shallowness of vision that leads them to feel tremendously dated. This book is absolutely an artifact of 2011, and doesn't have a lot of virtues reading in 2017. To me, this suggests a lack of deep analysis of the kind of rich people things that are, well, more timeless. That is, there's a way to use the particularities of the 2010/2011 scene to make deeper and more perma
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Annemarie Cox’s husband writing about rich people in a snarky tone should be exactly up my alley, right? Nope.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun book that’s good for the soul.
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Jean-Philippe Michel
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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
A perfectly snarky condemnation of all that is wrong with capitalism.
Jan 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
uninspired and takes itself too seriously
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“Indeed, probably the most effective way to break the free market's spell would be to transform its most debilitating cultural products into a globalized twelve-step program. See, for instance, how New Economy laissez-faire ideologues like Virginia Postrel or Chris Anderson fare in the hypercapitalist but viciously authoritarian island paradise of Singapore. Or put Thomas Friedman to work in a Marianas textile factory for a couple of months and let him see how flat the market-mastered world looks to him then. Take the utopian theorists of "seasteading" libertarianism at their word, and let them fashion their stateless free-market utopia out of all reach of all international sea treaty enforcement. Put Steve Forbes to work as a union organizer in the shadows of the breathtaking architectural homage to investor-class excess known as the Abu Dhabi skyline - where the local construction industry is awash in sweated day labor. Indeed, I can see a whole Survivor-style reality television franchise in the offing: Capitalist Detox Island. True, it might be hard to sell to advertisers - unless, that is, you compel TARP recipients to purchase ad time. Now that's a manipulation of market forces I can get behind.” 0 likes
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