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The Rich and How They Got That Way: How the Wealthiest People of All Time--from Genghis Khan to Bill Gates--Made Their Fortunes Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Crown Business
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812932676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812932676
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #813,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I saw it mentioned in Barron's as containing a chapter on Hetty Green, "the Witch of Wall Street". I knew a little of her story, how she bought cheap and sold dear, and was a famous miser.
So I bought the book. It turns out to be more a collection of magazine article length peices about what these people were like, not how they got rich.
For example, after describing how Hetty inherited some money, married and moved to England, says:"Hetty eagerly bought up US government bonds, which, in the years after the civil war were being sold for as little as forty cents on the dollar. Most investors thought they would never be redeemed at full value. Hetty also began buying American railroad stocks and bonds. In one year in London, she made more than $1.25 million on her investments."
That's it. Nothing about how she chose to buy that particular investment, nothing about the other choices she rejected. Also nothing about how, when, or for how much she sold the bonds. Nothing at all useful to today's investor trying to choose what to buy cheap and when to sell dear.
My advice to you: don't invest in this book.
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Format: Hardcover
What is wealth? How do you get it? What does it mean to the wealthy person, and to the rest of society? _The Rich and How They Got That Way_ is a fun pop-history/collective biography of wealth and the wealthy. Through the biographies, we see how in ancient times accumulation of wealth was simply a matter of looting other peoples' movebles. Then coinage became widely available, and trade became more diffused and profitable. Then paper currency loosened money from its metal base, and fortunes were made in speculation. And so on, on down to the mass marketing of the present day, and the fortunes that it spawned.
The best chapters are those in which an economic pioneer is riding the crest of a wave of innovation. The accounts of Jacob Fugger, John Law, and Richard Arkwright are thus very good. The naked capitalism of Arkwright's time during the Industrial Revolution, especially, should give strict laissez-faire conservatives pause. The weakest chapter is the one on Howqua, a Cantonese merchant. It seems clear that the author felt compelled to include the Opium War in this book, but couldn't find a compelling personality. So she just used an individual who appeared in the historical accounts somewhat more than other merchants did. That, or political correctness compelled her to include a set number of non-westerners. I would have been more interested to read a chapter on the British East India Company, and how it failed to suppress the Dutch economy, but did drop a world-wide empire into Britain's lap.
The concluding chapters show how the rich became more common in society, and how the superrich have struggled to distinguish themselves. From conspicuous consumption to conspicuous philanthropy, from imitation European chalets to bathtubs that can be activated by remote control from the car, how the rich got rich and how they struggle to get richer is an absorbing story. A light, fun historical read.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is basically a history book with mini-biographies of 10 different people. It was not an insightful guide into how you can use proven techniques to reach the same heights. It was, however, interesting to read profiles on some famous people through history. Many of those documented I previously knew nothing about.
In reading the individual stories, I was able to grasp the progression of the global economy although this was not explicitly explained. This was a good pre-bedtime or a bathroom read. I say this because you can read a chapter and pick it up a month later and read another chapter. SInce the chapters are basically separate biographies, you do not have to finish this one at once.
I would recommend this boojk for anyone who enjoys historical stories about business people and events. However, this is not a guide in any way that can be used to help you improve your business skills.
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