Arguing that our growing conservatism in things political goes hand in hand with American society's increasing interest in wealth, appetite for conspicuous consumption and yearning for power, Taylor ( Storming the Magic Kingdom ) offers an entertaining if controversial analysis of the causes of these allied developments and their impact on all aspects of life. Our ``money culture,'' he contends, was sanctioned by religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell--and by bluestocking charities and institutions like New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, avid for new money. With sly humor, the author explains how this ``culture'' has anointed stars in the worlds of art, fashion, entertainment, sports, etc., based largely on the fees they command, their snob appeal and their potential as investment opportunities. Crediting inflation and market deregulation for spawning a new breed of ruthless investment bankers, corporate raiders and developers, Taylor maintains that despite the 1987 stock market ``crash,'' our current crippling deficit, economic and social polarization, the money culture's yen for quick profits continues unabated. (Oct.)
``Money is good.'' ``Apologize later.'' Those are tenets that ruled the 1980s, says New York magazine writer Taylor, and in this book, he looks at a few people in this money-mad merry-go-round: investment banker Charlie Atkins, who built a colossal fortune out of illegal tax shelters; artist Mark Kostabi, who has assistants paint and even conceive his art; and John and Susan Gutfreund, Salomon Brother's ruthless chief and his extravagant wife. These people and the others briefly mentioned (Donald Trump, Ivan Boesky, et al.) are ``the usual suspects'' when discussing 1980s excess and are extensively written about in such publications as Vanity Fair, New York , and Manhattan, inc , but Taylor connects them in a framework that provides an illuminating social commentary on the age. Recommended.-- Judy Quinn, ``Library Journal''