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Publisher's Summary

The rich have always been different from you and me, but this revealing and funny journey through Richistan entertainingly shows that they are more different than ever. Richistanis have 400-foot-yachts, 30,000-square-foot homes, house staffs of more than 100, and their own "arborists". They're also different from Old Money, and have torn down blue-blood institutions to build their own shining empire.

Richistan is like the best travel writing, full of colorful and interesting stories providing insights into exotic locales. Robert Frank has been loitering on the docks of yacht marinas, pestering his way into charity balls, and schmoozing with real-estate agents selling mega-houses to capture the story of the 21st century's nouveau riche.

As Robert Frank reveals, there is not one Richistan but three: Lower, Middle, and Upper, each of which has its own levels and distinctions of wealth: the haves and the have-mores. The influence of Richistan and the Richistanis extends well beyond the almost ten million households that make up its population, as the nonstop quest for status and an insatiable demand for luxury goods reshapes the entire American economy.

©2007 Robert Frank; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Frank understands how great fortunes are made and how great fortunes are spent. I had a wonderful time reading this book." (Dominick Dunne)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Kenneth
  • Long Beach, CA, USA
  • 07-15-07

Enjoyable Read

I wouldn't exactly call it essential reading, but it does describe one of the effects of globalization on American culture. American workers who can be replaced by Chinese are becoming increasingly less valuable, while American entrepreneurs who develop products for the global market are able to generate considerable wealth. This book shows the reader how an emerging class of newly rich Americans is developing a distinctive way of life within the larger American culture.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Stewart
  • Gaithersburg,, MD, United States
  • 07-01-07

The rich aren't like us

The super rich are truly not like us. Richistan explains how and why. The premise of the book is that the super rich live in their own insular world of household managers, executive chefs, nannies, private jets, multiple vacation homes, and yatchs. Richistan offers a candid examination of how a new generation of Americans have become super wealthy as well as how they spend their newly found riches.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 07-14-07

awash in dough

Vibrant overview of today's wealth culture, from the wannabees to those who have made it. Entertaining as well as informative, with a narrator that is very easy to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Cleora
  • Atlanta, Gabon
  • 07-03-09

Not what I expected

I thought the book would be more voyeuristic. I wanted to know all about the trappings of wealth. There is some of that in here, but several chapters drone on endlessly with statistics and finance. One chapter profiles a man who lost all his money. I could care less--the book is not called "Pooristan." I wanted more juicy details about what's in rich folks' houses, what clothes they buy, how do they treat their family, and how do they live this lifestyle day to day. In short, I found this book booooring in many places. It's not quite what it appears to be.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Required reading before you spend your $600 rebate

Great picture to describe the "privileged class" in vivid terms. Robert Frank continues his explanation of the growing inequality in our country, by explaining the gap arising within the "Nation of Richistan" itself! I was led to a moment of sympathy for the 1/5 of lower Richistanis who had to spend their entire annual income in a fruitless attempt to keep up with their betters. Since I was listening to this book while driving, I could feel the pathos in narrator Dick Hill's voice as he describes the problem facing Richistani's as they queue up for dock space for their yacht, or even more when they have to wait for takeoff clearance on a friday evening flight on their private jet. Our faith is restored when we are told how one Richistani daughter's wish for her birthday is to fly commercial, "so she can see what the inside of an airport terminal looks like". Hill's narration adds a cheerful tone to this Robert Frank contribution. Helps paint a clearer picture of the real difference between the two Americas; one that no local or national politician seems to recognize.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Who Knew?

Who knew there was that much wealth around? This book was loaned to me by a member of, I will guess, Lower Richistan and I had to buy it.

I work in a resort community for wealthy people and I have long wondered where they all come from, how they got there and how do you describe the rich since they are obviously not all rich to the same degree.
I love the writer's take on this. I also like the fact that he shows the generosity of the wealthy and how their wealth creates monetarily and emotionally satisfying jobs for working class people like me who know how to provide good service.
This could really help people understand wealth beyond the "us and them" portrayal in the media in general.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ho Hum....being rich is work!

This book certainly taught me that the rich truly ARE different -- and yet not so different from the rest of us. Once I moved past uncomfortable feelings about the day to day suffering of much of the world, I came to feel that being ENORMOUSLY rich (without serious purpose in life) is like watching a ball of dough with too much yeast. It grows and blows up into something quite unattractive. Written with 'tongue in cheek' rather than 'panting and drooling' -- it is mildly entertaining. Not a coffee table book, though..

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • JG
  • 03-17-15

Terrible, distracting narration

What would have made Richistan better?

The book itself was engaging, when the author is focusing on demographics, how the subjects made their wealth, and their personal P&L statements. The text gets tiring and boring when it gets distracted by certain sub-species of "Richistanis" (politicos, etc.). It is also distracting having to play along as the author continually attempts to coin new demographics (Richistanis, Instapraneurs...barf).

Would you recommend Richistan to your friends? Why or why not?

There are defnitely segments of the book that are fascinating, insightful, and fresh, but one must sit through a lot of "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" to get to it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Enormously. I've never been so put off by a narrator. It's as if this guy is normally a children's book narrator, and had to fill in for the usual guy that was out sick. He's fascinated with his imagined talent for voices and accents. Why he thinks I care what his idea of what rich guy abc sounds like is beyond me. Subtlety is an art and this guy is finger painting.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Richistan?

Descriptions of butler boot camp (not the demographics on who uses butlers, though, that was interesting...), "Instapraneurs", Ballroom Barbarians, Performance Philanthropists, Political Kingmakers. These scenes are all very "fluffy" and not useful. The Daily Mail to the rest of the book's BBC News.

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Interesting Book

Interesting. I would like to see an addendum/update/v2.0 with the aftermath of the 2008/9 market meltdown and the effect that had on the different groups in this study.

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