Forbes magazine A work that reveals the pursuit of wealth through capitalism as morally edifying, even if never perfect.
Michael Lewis author of
The New New Thing An intellectual journey into the soul of technological capitalism...Raises profound questions and offers provocative answers.
The Wall Street Journal D'Souza asks the right questions about the new prosperity.
The Virtue of Prosperity is an entertaining book, filled with lively argument and reportage and written in a brisk, approachable style. Commentary
This latest work may mark D'Souza's graduation from a promising to an important writer, a possible heir to Michael Lewis's role as an insightful chronicler of our times. After serving a year in the Reagan White House, he wrote two conservative tracts, Illiberal Education (1991) and The End of Racism (1995). These well-argued, one-sided books established D'Souza as a B-list conservative commentator. In 1997, his political biography of Ronald Reagan achieved acclaim for its nuanced insights, even from some who didn't agree with D'Souza's politics. The new volume finds D'Souza wandering around the country discussing how to be hip, rich and wired with Internet billionaires, street people and regular folks. He wants to know if the techno-rich are different from other rich, whether the superrich act like the merely rich and whether most rich people are guilty, driven, shallow or happy. Lengthy discussions ensue on the meaning of inequality, who gets rich and how, the history of wealth in the world and what the future holds for the wealthy and the wired. Some Reagan-style homilies lead into predictable philosophical essays that may interest intellectual Republicans. But other stories show a sharp pen and sharper eye that transcends polarized politics, leading to philosophical reflections that are much deeper--or at least less predictable--than in D'Souza's first two works, and delivered in a unique voice and with an unusually light touch. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Don't let the dry title of this book deceive you; it is a lively, provocative, and insightful exploration into the morality of wealth creation today. Given D'Souza's conservative credentials (American Enterprise Inst., Illiberal Education), one might wonder why he's addressing this topic. Don't all conservatives love capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurial success? Yes and no. D'Souza claims that "never in the history of the world have so many people made so much money," but he also points out that "America has a new problem: coping with prosperity." So what's the problem? Having interviewed many people, some who are very pro-technology (whom he calls members of the party of "yeah"), as well as some who are anti-technology (the party of "nah"), he determines that while many might enjoy their new wealth, some feel conflicted, almost guilty about having it. But what are people doing with all this wealth? D'Souza provides some perspective by pointing out how earlier civilizations coped on a much smaller scale with similar philosophical questions. Bottom line? In this best of all possible worlds, there are no easy answers, and we should count our blessings for living in such a highly developed age. Recommended for larger public, business, and academic libraries.--Richard Drezen, "Washington Post" News Research, New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
D'Souza (Ronald Reagan, 1997, etc.) tells us what's right, and what's wrong, with our brave, new, prosperous world. Folks are getting rich quick everywhere, thanks to a booming stock market and dross-to-gold Internet start-ups. And while America has always been rich, this rich is a new kind of richmarked in part by the young super-rich, like 20-year-old Yale undergrad Joshua Newman, who runs a $6 million venture-capital fund. But the wealthy, D'Souza argues, are mired in moral quandaries: how did I get so lucky? Do I deserve these riches? The new wealth has done more than make a few millionaires feel guilty; it has also produced a larger critique of society. The stock-market boom and rampant consumer capitalism, say critics, are destroying American valuesdestroying the environment, tampering with religion, widening the gap between rich and poor. One-time ideological foes, like leftist Studs Terkel and conservative Gertrude Himmelfarb, can meet and agree on this much: our bank accounts are richer, but our society is poorer. And there's another critique, less articulate, but no less heartfelt: the ones"left behind," the Hollywood waitresses who aren't making it on the silver screen, the college geeks who aren't founding the next big Web site, are outraged and self-righteous. Why do they have to flip burgers while Julia Roberts suns at her pool? But capitalism is not all bad, D'Souza says, because even those waitresses who aren't making millions still lead a pretty good life. They drive nice cars and have wide-screen TVs. Will these"consolation prize[s] . . . appease" them? D'Souza thinks not:thelower-middle classes won't rise up in armed rebellion; they will sink into despair. His thesis is richly illustrated with fascinating anecdotes, but the yarns D'Souza tells fail to offer much in the way of prognosis, lending an unfinished quality to his overall portrait. Read it for its reporting, not its insightswhich are few. Author tour; radio satelllite tour