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Customer Review

January 30, 2015
This book is little more than a loose collection anecdotes.

P.S. Having read this book a little more thoroughly, I think my previous dismissal was mostly too generous. The first third of the book is as meandering as described above, the bulk of the middle is much worse (deserving of a negative two stars Amazon rating), but the end gets better.

In her portrait of Western and Russian billionaires, Freeland ignores politics and economics while focusing the biographies and physical appearances of billionaires; she frequently implies that these billionaires are quite simply rich because they are super-ultra-mega geniuses. "Revolution" is her weasel word to omit all political economy, at least until her discussion of China and India. She emphasizes how darker-skinned billionaires in the far east have become rich by capturing state structures to ensure themselves monopoly profits, or something analogous, at public expense. That white-skinned billionaires are immune from such factual analysis can only be called racist.

In between the love letters, Freeland sprinkles in some facts (e.g., the massive increase in poverty and early death rates in the former Soviet Union and the increase in rural suicides in India under neoliberal regimes) to balance out the picture. These bits, while informative, seem an afterthought.

Freeland's forte seem to be sycophantic "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" coverage of new billionaires rather than overt propaganda on their behalf; the two, however, are very similarly offensive -- both morally and intellectually.
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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