My Very First Book Review

January 27, 2021 — Kirkus likes my book! Their verdict: “Get It.” Now that’s what I’m talking about!

This review, my first official one, came out yesterday. I’m usually the one doing the reviewing, so now I get to taste my own medicine. In case you are too lazy to read it, I made a digest of my favorite bits…

A “wake-up call” for “millions of American dreamers who still believe that…having obscene wealth will change their lives for the better…The author is a personable guide” who “provides a cautionary tale about the myriad headaches that unbridled wealth can bring. … A scathing but fair indictment of how the mindless worship of wealth makes us all poorer.”

A personable guide! I love that. My wife commented, “I wouldn’t think of you as a personable guide; more like an old curmudgeonly guide!” Shows you how much she knows!

I thought it was a fair review, but I’m an editor, so of course I have nit-picks. The reviewer uses the word “factoids,” which here I take to mean points of interest. But technically, a factoid is something dubious that has been repeated so often that people accept it as fact. I paid professional fact-checkers a total of about $11,600 (more than some authors get as a book advance) to make sure my book didn’t include factoids. Just the facts, ma’am.

My only substantive dispute involves a line I found kind of amusing: “Mechanic is happy to report that the rich are often bored and miserable…”

What am I, a liberal Mr. Burns? I actually take no pleasure in the misery of others, rich or otherwise, and I took care to treat my wealthy subjects with respect and compassion—or so I thought. I don’t consider myself the schadenfreude type, but I guess every reader is free to interpret things in his or her (or their) own way.

I also wouldn’t say the super-rich are any more bored than the rest of us. Harried? Sure. Building and maintaining wealth at this level is almost a full-time job, leaving little time for enjoyment. Miserable? That’s true, too. Being very wealthy can be isolating, thanks to our tendency to self-segregate by the number of zeroes in our bank balances. The space and privacy we covet can become a double-edged sword. When we set ourselves apart, literally and figuratively, we end up having fewer meaningful interactions with others. The richer you are, the smaller your social world becomes. And people will judge you, too, without really knowing you.

One of my sources is Doug Holladay, a former Wall Streeter who now makes his living taking wealthy and powerful men—CEOs and senators and whatnot—on posh self-realization retreats. A lot of these guys are desperately lonely, he told me. They feel inauthentic. They have spent their whole lives building a grand facade, and they feel empty inside. The motivational speaker Tony Robbins said much the same thing at an event I attended during my book research. Robbins spends lots of time in the company of billionaires, and they are miserable, he said. I guess that’s why they want a guy like Robbins around. They need someone they can talk to.

So, that’s all. Thanks, Kirkus.

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