Author: Larry Samuel
ISBN: 13: 978-0-8144-1362-3: 10:0-8144-1362-5
Publishers: Amacom

Click Here To Purchase Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture

Larry Samuel, author of Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture and founder of Culture Planning LLC has been described by as the “Margaret Mead of plutocrats.” Since 1990 he has been a leading consultant to several Fortune 500 companies as well as major advertising agencies. He holds a Ph.D in American Studies and a MA in English from the University of Minnesota, an MBA in Marketing from the University of Georgia, and was a Smithsonian Institution Fellow. If you check out his web site, you will notice that Culture Planning LLC helps Fortune 500 companies market to the wealth through its Wealthology,™ which takes a cultural approach to consumer insight designed to complement traditional (quantitative and qualitative) marketing research.

According to the inside flap of Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture, the book is the first full examination of American wealth culture over the past century. Samuel informs his readers in the Bibliography that his book relies primarily on period magazines and newspapers as it sources of material. Samuel's reasoning is that he believes journalists who serve on the front lines are the ones who can give us first hand knowledge for recovering unfiltered stories of the wealthy. And as I can vouch for after reading this book, Samuel is not stingy in quoting hundreds of publications in order to tell us the story how the cultural dynamics surrounding the wealthy elite have, on the one hand, changed dramatically while, on the other hand, remained the same over the past century.

The book is divided into six separate eras, beginning with 1920-1929, 1930-1945, 1946-1964, 1965-1979, 1980-1994, and concluding with 1995 to the present day. Today, the USA can boast that they have more than three-hundred and seventy billionaires and more than nine million millionaires. Rich provides us with a glimpse as to who were the Gateses, Bransons, and Trumps of the past and how do they compare to today's wealthy. How did they live and spend their money?

We also have a few surprises along the way when we compare the rich of today with those of yesteryear, where, in fact, the lifestyles of many of these rich shared the same passion for exotic holidays, collecting art and vintage cars, and throwing extravagant and expensive parties. Even today's philanthropy mirrors that which occurred in the past with one of the basic motives to ensure a legacy.

There is much here to ponder over as Samuel covers a great deal of territory and one theme that is consistent is that no matter what is the state of the economy, there always has been a class of people who seem to be immune. As pointed out in the introduction, “one of the most interesting stories in Rich is the natural ebb and flow of the upper class and their enormous fortunes.” How often have we heard that the death of Big Money is just around the corner, and yet it still has survived the 1930s, 1970s, late 1980s and now our recent recession.

Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture is a very full, at times, overwhelming read, however, one that is very interesting. It is the type of a book one can wade through daily, reflect on, and ultimately pass it onto someone else interested in the topic who will, likewise, be rewarded with a splendid introduction into a very important piece of our history.

Click Here To Purchase Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Wealth Culture