A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich
Three Rivers Press (CA), Paperback, 9780307341457, 277pp.
Publication Date: June 24, 2008
RICH-I-STAN n. 1. a new country located in the heart of America, populated entirely by millionaires, most of whom acquired their wealth during the new Gilded Age of the past twenty years. 2. a country with a population larger than Belgium and Denmark; typical citizens include spud king J. R. Simplot; hair stylist Sydell Miller, the new star of Palm Beach; and assorted oddball entrepreneurs. 3. A country that with a little luck and pluck, you, too, could be a citizen of.
The rich have always been different from you and me, but Robert Frank's revealing and funny journey through Richistan entertainingly shows that they are truly another breed.
"Let's face it: we all want to know about the Rich. We know they're different than us, but how? We want to pry, but we're too polite or inhibited to ask, even if we get the chance, which is increasingly rare since they're walling themselves off in gated estates, floating around on mega-yachts or hiding behind the telephones at Christies auctions. Thank goodness the Wall Street Journal has unleashed Robert Frank as its "wealth reporter," a title which hardly does him justice. His inexhaustible curiosity, piercing eye for detail, and understated wit reminds me of Tom Wolfe, which is about the highest praise I can bestow. I can't remember the last time I've had so much fun with a work of non-fiction as I did reading Richistan."
—James B. Stewart, author of Den of Thieves and DisneyWar
“Like an anthropologist in the Amazon basin, Frank goes native . . . instead of a loincloth, he dons a white tuxedo.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Robert Frank charts the surprisingly volatile power of the burgeoning American multimillionaires, blue-collar workers turned fur-collared swells who increasingly and often uneasily wield their newfound influence like a club.”
“Frank explores the new world of wealth in America and hands it to us on a silver platter. . . . His sharply drawn portraits of life in Richistan give us new insight into how America really works.”
“[Robert Frank] takes us on a whiz-bang tour of the lives of the new rich.”
"Robert Frank truly understands the lives of today's wealthy. His entertaining profiles and fresh analysis make this a great read and a definitive portrait of the current boom."
—Ronald O. Perelman, billionaire financier, philanthropist.
"I couldn't put it down. Frank's field guide to the new rich is as funny as it is fascinating."
—Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail
"There's no group in society that fascinates me more than the new rich, or the nouveau riche, as they used to be called, especially the ones with social ambitions. The great 19th century English novelist Anthony Trollope created one of literature's greatest new rich characters in Augustus Melmott, who gave a ball for the emperor of China and everybody of social importance, who had sworn they'd never speak to him or his common wife, came and danced the night away. In Robert Frank's riveting book, Richistan, the same sort of attention-getting extravagance continues. Frank understands how great fortunes are made and how great fortunes are spent. I had a wonderful time reading this book."
"When Frank, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, began noticing that the ranks of America's wealthy had more than doubled in the last decade, and that they were beginning to cluster together in enclaves, he decided to investigate this new society, where "$1 million barely gets you in the door." The "Richistanis" like to consider themselves ordinary people who just happen to have tons of money, but they live in a world where people buy boats just to carry their cars and helicopters behind their primary yachts, and ordering an alligator-skin toilet seat won't make even your interior designer blink. But Frank doesn't just focus on conspicuous consumption. He talks to philanthropists who apply investment principles to their charitable contributions and political fund-raisers who have used their millions to transform the Colorado state legislature. He also meets people for whom sudden wealth is an emotional burden, whose investment club meetings can feel like group therapy sessions. It's only in the final pages that Frank contemplates the widening gap between Richistan and the rest of the world-for the most part, his grand tour approach never loses its light touch."