THE AGE OF THE COMMON MILLIONAIRE by Robert Heller

THE AGE OF THE COMMON MILLIONAIRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The British author of 1985's The Naked Manager (and other sardonic such) here offers a gossipy appreciation of the remarkable creation of personal and corporate riches that has marked recent years. Without belaboring the point, he argues that millionaires have become common not only in numbers but also in the sources of their affluence and social origins. Heller focuses on the US, where an enterprising press corps and disclosure laws make it difficult for those with a Midas touch to hide their lights under a bushel. He nonetheless cites a wealth of Croesean examples from other venues, including Australia's Alan Bond, Canada's Reichmann family, Egypt's Mahamad al-Fayed, Japanese shipbuilder Hisap Tsubouchi, and the UK's Lord Forte. Breezing quickly past dynastic success stories compiled by clans with household names (Busch, DuPont, Ford, Heinz, et al.), the author zeroes in on changes in entrepreneurial fashion that have resulted in part from the global economy's ongoing switch from mining and manufacturing to services. Along the way, he surveys the smart-money means contemporary fortune hunters have devised to move, manage, manipulate, and accumulate assets. Heller also reviews in frequently telling detail the many ways in which non-salary compensation schemes and tax dodges can be employed to feather the nests of corporate chieftains or their free-lance counterparts. He concedes, though, that venturesome industrialists and financiers make their own luck, if somewhat too zealously on occasion. His short list of villains includes the unsavory likes of lvan Boesky, Stanley Goldblum (of Equity Funding infamy), and Robert Vesco; the far lengthier roll of paradigmatic capitalists ranges from the Bass brothers, Armand Hammer, Harry Helmsley, and Leonard Stern through Sam Walton. While not gainsaying the need for public control of excess in private business, Heller generally applauds the emergence of common millionaires. He does so on grounds they ""have sprang from a richness in society itself,"" which attests a profusion of new tastes, technologies, and opportunities. In brief: socioeconomic commentary that's entertaining as well as enlightening.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1988
Publisher: Dutton