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Publisher's Summary

For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy Burden's birth, the Burdens had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline - and were rarely seen not holding a drink.

In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites listeners to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother. At the heart of the story is Wendy's glamorous and aloof mother, who, after her husband's suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain-smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize).

Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, Dead End Gene Pool offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: The rich are different.

©2010 Wendy Burden (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"In this dark and humorous memoir Wendy Burden takes us inside the family circus that was her side of the Vanderbilt dynasty, bringing American class structure, sibling rivalry and the decline of the bluebloods vividly to life." (Gus Van Sant)
"This blueblood tale is spun so deftly and so charmingly that it is easy to forget that this it is essentially a sad story of family neglect and degeneration. Burden joins the ranks of such memoirists as Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris, who have successfully mined their dysfunctional childhoods for comedic gold." ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fun romp, terrible narration

I am loving this story. How else could us average folks peep into the world of the formerly uber-rich blue bloods of the robber baron era? Wendy Burdon deftly manages to report on her family's dysfunction with loving and hilarious portraits and vignettes. HOWEVER, where did poor Audible find this narrator, and how many people listened to this before it was approved?? Marlo refers to Dusty Springfeild's Wishing and Hoping as Wishing and Hopping, prounounces Schlumberger like a burger from the slums, completely mangles French accents, etc. Fingernails on the blackboard... Wendy B, you deserved far better than this! Next time, please read it yourself. You'd not only do it better, but presumably save a few bucks, too!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Dexter, MI, United States
  • 08-02-10

Distasteful story, bad narration

Hard to tell which is worse, this story of entitlement and dysfunction presented as witty or the narrator's inability to pronounce a lot of the proper names the author drops with such a thud.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, delivery could use improvement.

What an amazing tale. Family tree begins with the rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt and gets more irreverent and hilarious from there. Wonderfully written, darkly funny memoir. If you like to look at the underbelly of the super-rich, blue-bloods in particular, this one's for you. Sadly the narrator mispronounces soooooooooooo many words it is rather distracting. But I can make no fault with the story itself. So crazy it could only be true.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Self-indulgent garbage

Would you try another book from Wendy Burden and/or Coleen Marlo?

No. Wendy Burden is the most unsympathetic character. Coleen Marlo mispronounces words, like saying wonton instead of wanton.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Coleen Marlo?

Wendy Burden is so unsympathetic it would not matter who the narrator was.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Dead End Gene Pool?

I would have fought to have this book not published.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marisa
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 10-20-11

Great story, delivery could use improvement.

What an amazing tale. Family tree begins with the rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt and gets more irreverent and hilarious from there. Wonderfully written, darkly funny memoir. If you like to look at the underbelly of the super-rich, blue-bloods in particular, this one's for you. Sadly the narrator mispronounces soooooooooooo many words it is rather distracting. But I can make no fault with the story itself. So crazy it could only be true.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful