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If ever anyone needed proof that history repeats itself, Samuel offers ample and compelling evidence in this witty portrait of American wealth culture in times of boom and bust. He argues that Americans have always been obsessed with becoming rich, regardless of how much they may momentarily despise the fat cats. Just as the social standing of the wealthy has changed dramatically (from robber barons to entrepreneurial heroes), the acquisition of wealth has become more democratized, as seen in the 1950s when the pursuit of wealth became normalized-even a hobby-among the emerging postwar bourgeoisie. Samuels shows the cycles of excess, vilification and re-emergence of the wealthy classes, from the freewheeling 1920s to the ostentation of the 1980s-and the constant-and uniquely American-mythology of the self-made man, as reinvigorated by the rise of the unpedigreed cyber-rich in the 1990s. Samuel offers a glimmer of optimism for those still struggling to join the ranks of the rich: "The coming future of the American rich after 2008 remains uncertain, but history tells us that reports of their collective death are greatly exaggerated." (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.