The Billionaire Raj

A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age
Narrated by: Shridhar Solanki
Length: 14 hrs and 42 mins
Categories: History, Asia
4.5 out of 5 stars (107 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A colorful and revealing portrait of the rise of India’s new billionaire class in a radically unequal society.

India is the world’s largest democracy, with more than one billion people and an economy expanding faster than China’s. But the rewards of this growth have been far from evenly shared, and the country’s top 1 percent now own nearly 60 percent of its wealth. In megacities like Mumbai, where half the population live in slums, the extraordinary riches of India’s new dynasties echo the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers of yesterday, funneling profits from huge conglomerates into lifestyles of conspicuous consumption.   

James Crabtree’s The Billionaire Raj takes listeners on a personal journey to meet these reclusive billionaires, fugitive tycoons, and shadowy political power brokers. From the sky terrace of the world’s most expensive home to impoverished villages and mass political rallies, Crabtree dramatizes the battle between crony capitalists and economic reformers, revealing a tense struggle between equality and privilege playing out against a combustible backdrop of aspiration, class, and caste. 

The Billionaire Raj is a vivid account of a divided society on the cusp of transformation - and a struggle that will shape not just India’s future, but the world’s.

©2018 James Crabtree (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“James Crabtree has written a lucid, detailed, and at times epic account of the new India, opening our eyes to the economic and social transformation that has quietly occurred there in recent years, behind the facade of the headlines. A must read for all those interested in the political and economic destiny of the subcontinent.” (Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Return of Marco Polo’s World)

“James Crabtree, once a hugely-admired star foreign correspondent, has transformed himself into a brilliant writer and analyst of the Indian super rich. This timely, fascinating and eye-opening book is also - a rarity for a book about money - wonderfully witty and beautifully written.” (William Dalrymple, author of The Last Mughal)

“James Crabtree distinguished himself as the most insightful journalist writing for the Financial Times from India. It is not surprising therefore that he has now written a book that offers a splendid overview of the issues that have been raised concerning India’s spectacular growth since the reforms began in 1991. It is bound to become a classic.” (Jagdish Bhagwati, co-author of Why Growth Matters)

What listeners say about The Billionaire Raj

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

Lacks depth

The author observations are correct but lacks deeper understanding of both India as well as of more diverse economic knowledge.
An example of each-
- Most of the book talks about events from the viewpoint of mega cities like Mumbai and New Delhi. And Modi won a 2nd term because of work done in the hinterlands (like Ujjawala scheme, health insurance, housing for all, building of toilets to name a few) but the author doesn’t covers them
- The author talks about slums of Mumbai and wonders if the dwellers there will ever use the newly built airport. Of courae they already do. The slum dwellers of Mumbai have enough momey to buy cheap $100 domestic flight tickets in India. The author should read the book Triump of Cities to learn that more successful cities attract more slum dwellers as the cities provide more opportunities for the poor

1 person found this helpful

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annoying fake Indian accent

the content is ok but the narrator's fake Indian accent when narrating utterances by Indian people is very annoying. it got really bad around the narenda modi chapter. there's no reason to fake an Indian accent.

1 person found this helpful

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Too long

Too long for the normal persons attention span. Thought would cover the individuals of India’s wealth much more.

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Great crash course on India's powerful class

For an Indian, this book is an interesting collection of stories from power circles in Industry and Politics in India. For an outsider it could be more eye opening and a crash course on India's "guilded age". I missed the depth in any one part of the story and information was more like a news than an interconnected editorial leading to a conclusion.

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Excellent parallel

Fascinating to see how the author allows reflections on America ‘s path and status while being able to visualize India”s journey.