Michael Mechanic

Publishers Weekly Chimes In

So, I just noticed this new Jackpot review from Publishers Weekly. I’m glad the trade press is paying attention. This is my second professional review so far, and I can already tell the experience is going to feel a bit weird. You spend almost two years alone with your work, and then all of a sudden it’s out in public for anyone to laud or eviscerate. So far, so good. Every reviewer comes with their own personality, knowledge, and life experience, so some will probably love Jackpot and others hate it. At some point, it will be eviscerated for this or that reason. Now, I wouldn’t call this PW review a rave or anything, but at least the reviewer seemed to think the book is worth reading. What do you think?

Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All

Michael Mechanic. Simon & Schuster, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-982127-21-3

Mother Jones senior editor Mechanic debuts with a unique look at the “social, psychological, and societal complications that come with great affluence and the reality that so few possess it.” Relating the stories of people who have inherited a fortune, won the lottery, or hit some other type of “jackpot,” Mechanic notes the awkwardness of having “long-lost friends and relations come out of the woodwork seeking handouts,” and explains that no longer having a financial incentive to work can leave one feeling “unmoored.” He describes $500 T-shirts and concierge medical services that cost as much as $40,000 per year, but cites evidence that people’s sense of how well they’re doing in life stops improving once they hit the “satiation point” of $105,000 in annual earnings. Mechanic also takes a skeptical view of “grand philanthropic gestures” made by billionaires who avoid taxes and underpay their workers, discusses the influence of money on politics, and sketches the origins of the “wealth fantasy” in American culture. Mechanic’s nuanced perspective on wealth accumulation offers fresh insights, though he spends more time chronicling success stories than analyzing the structural forces that rig the economy in favor of the affluent. Still, this is an intriguing look at the boons and burdens of wealth.

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