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The idea for this book came from a sociological inquiry into the question of whether people will continue working after economic necessity is eliminated--hence 100 interviews with big-money winners in the Eastern state lotteries. Unfortunately, much of that question's impetus is lost in the book, which like Suddenly Rich (p. 476), offers a clucking cacophony of sympathy for a variety of instant-fortune ills. Kaplan discovered that the majority of lottery winners quit their jobs soon after the windfall--thus, he concludes glibly, ""The primary reasons for working in the United States are survival and habit."" Once the former is assured, the latter quickly gives way. Some other similarities in the stories generate interest: many winners sought supernatural explanations for their good fortune, even to the point of crediting psychic phenomena; big winners were beset by hard luck stories designed to elicit contributions (evidence, to sociologist Kaplan, of the desperate plight of the poor and the aged). Harassment and paranoia plagued the winners at every turn; some were interviewed, defensively, through screen doors. IRS horror stories abound, and for some the process imposed a financial strain; widows found their fortunes bittersweet, without ""somebody to share it with."" Yet like Suddenly Rich, this book reaches the conclusion that ""no one regretted having won or wanted to give the money back."" Under the circumstances, the gripes seem sour grapes.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row