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  1. 10.9 hrs • 7/12/2016 • Unabridged

    For readers of Michael Lewis comes a story of global financial inequality—intertwined with the story of Brazil’s wealthiest citizen, Eike Batista—that begins to answer the question: Who exactly are our new hyperwealthy plutocrats, and should we welcome or fear them? When Bloomberg News invited the young American journalist Alex Cuadros to report on Brazil’s emerging class of billionaires at the height of the historic Brazilian boom, he was poised to cover two of the biggest business stories of our time: how the giants of the developing world were triumphantly taking their place at the center of global capitalism, and how wealth inequality was changing societies everywhere. The billionaires of Brazil and their massive fortunes resided at the very top of their country’s economic pyramid, and whether they quietly accumulated exceptional power or extravagantly displayed their decadence like peacocks, they formed a potent microcosm of this stratum of the world. Over the four years Cuadros was on the billionaire beat, he reported on media moguls and televangelists, energy barons and shadowy figures from the years of military dictatorship who’d reinvented themselves as the country’s economic stewards, soy barons who lived on the outskirts of the Amazon, and new-economy billionaires spinning money from speculation. He learned just how deeply they all reached into Brazilian life. They held sway over the economy, government, media, and stewardship of the environment; they determined the spiritual fates and populated the imaginations of their countrymen. Cuadros’s zealous reporting takes us from penthouses to courtrooms, from favelas to extravagant art fairs, from scenes of unimaginable wealth to desperate, massive street protests. Within a business narrative that deftly explains and dramatizes the volatility of the global economy, Cuadros offers us literary journalism with a grand sweep: a universal story of hubris and tragedy that uncovers the deeper meaning of this era of billionaires for us all.

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    Brazillionaires

    10.9 hrs • 7/12/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 4.4 hrs • 10/7/2014 • Unabridged

    From the author of the eye-opening and controversial essay on poverty that was read by millions comes the real-life Nickel and Dimed, as Linda Tirado explains what it’s like to be working poor in America and why poor people make the decisions they do. We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America—yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two—but what poverty is truly like on all levels. In her thought-provoking voice, Tirado discusses how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”

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    Hand to Mouth

    Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Read by Linda Tirado
    4.4 hrs • 10/7/14 • Unabridged
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  3. 10.2 hrs • 10/7/2014 • Unabridged

    In a searing indictment of America’s decline, former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert profiles struggling Americans—casualties of decades of government policies that have produced underemployment, inequality, and pointless wars—and offers a ringing call to arms to restore justice and the American dream. The United States needs to be reimagined. Once described by Lincoln as the last best hope on earth, the country seemed on the verge of fulfilling its immense promise in the mid-1960s and early 1970s: unemployment was low, wages and profits were high, and the nation’s wealth—by today’s standards—was distributed in a remarkably equitable fashion. America was a society confident that it could bring a middle-class standard of living (at the very least) and the full rights of citizenship to virtually everyone. This sense of possibility has evaporated. In this book longtime New York Times columnist Bob Herbert combines devastating stories of suffering Americans with keen political analysis to show where decades of corporate greed, political apathy, and short-term thinking have led: America’s infrastructure is crumbling, our schools fail our children, unnecessary wars maim our young men, and underemployment plagues a generation. He traces how the United States went wrong, exposing the slow, dangerous shift of political influence from the working population in the 1960s to the corporate and financial elite today, who act largely in their own self-interest. But the situation isn’t entirely hopeless. Herbert argues that by tapping the creative ideas of people across the country who are implementing solutions at the local level, the middle class can reassert its power, put the economy back on track, and usher in a new progressive era.

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    Losing Our Way

    10.2 hrs • 10/7/14 • Unabridged
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    13.3 hrs • 9/23/2014 • Unabridged

    A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home. When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, “fronting” in Yale, and at home. Through an honest rendering of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It’s about reaching one’s greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.

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    The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

    13.3 hrs • 9/23/14 • Unabridged
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  5. 8.5 hrs • 9/1/2014 • Unabridged

    A sweeping new look at the unheralded transformation that is eroding the foundations of American exceptionalism. Americans today find themselves mired in an era of uncertainty and frustration. The nation’s safety net is pulling apart under its own weight; political compromise is viewed as a form of defeat; and our faith in the enduring concept of American exceptionalism appears increasingly outdated. But the American Age may not be ending. In The Vanishing Neighbor, Marc J. Dunkelman identifies an epochal shift in the structure of American life—a shift unnoticed by many. Routines that once put doctors and lawyers in touch with grocers and plumbers—interactions that encouraged debate and cultivated compromise—have changed dramatically since the postwar era. Both technology and the new routines of everyday life connect tight-knit circles and expand the breadth of our social landscapes, but they have sapped the commonplace, incidental interactions that for centuries have built local communities and fostered healthy debate. The disappearance of these once-central relationships—between people who are familiar but not close, or friendly but not intimate—lies at the root of America’s economic woes and political gridlock. The institutions that were erected to support what Tocqueville called the “township”—that unique locus of the power of citizens—are failing because they haven’t yet been molded to the realities of the new American community. It’s time we moved beyond the debate over whether the changes being made to American life are good or bad and focus instead on understanding the trade-offs. Our cities are less racially segregated than in decades past, but we’ve become less cognizant of what’s happening in the lives of people from different economic backgrounds, education levels, or age groups. Familiar divisions have been replaced by cross-cutting networks—with profound effects for the way we resolve conflicts, spur innovation, and care for those in need. The good news is that the very transformation at the heart of our current anxiety holds the promise of more hope and prosperity than would have been possible under the old order. The Vanishing Neighbor argues persuasively that to win the future we need to adapt yesterday’s institutions to the realities of the twenty-first-century American community.

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    The Vanishing Neighbor

    8.5 hrs • 9/1/14 • Unabridged
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  6. 15.9 hrs • 7/1/2014 • Unabridged

    In Capital, Commonwealth Prize-winning author Rana Dasgupta examines one of the great trends of our time: the expansion of the global elite. Capital is an intimate portrait of the city of Delhi which bears witness to the extraordinary transmogrification of India’s capital. But it also offers a glimpse of what capitalism will become in the coming, post-Western world. The story of Delhi is a parable for where we are all headed. The boom following the opening up of India’s economy plunged Delhi into a tumult of destruction and creation: slums and markets were ripped down, and shopping malls and apartment blocks erupted from the ruins. Many fortunes were made, and in the glassy stores nestled among the new highways, customers paid for global luxury with bags of cash. But the transformation was stern, abrupt and fantastically unequal, and it gave rise to strange and bewildering feelings. The city brimmed with ambition and rage. Violent crimes stole the headlines. In the style of V. S. Naipaul’s now classic personal journeys, Dasgupta shows us this city through the eyes of its people. With the lyricism and empathy of a novelist, Dasgupta takes us through a series of encounters—with billionaires and bureaucrats, drug dealers and metal traders, slum dwellers and psychoanalysts—which plunge us into Delhi’s intoxicating, and sometimes terrifying, story of capitalist transformation. Together these people comprise a generation on the cusp, like that of Gilded Age New York: who they are, and what they want, says a tremendous amount about what the world will look like in the rest of the twenty-first century. Interweaving over a century of history with his personal journey, Dasgupta presents us with the first literary portrait of one of the twenty-first century’s fastest-growing megalopolises—a dark and uncanny portrait that gives us insights, too, as to the nature of our own—everyone’s—shared, global future.

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    Capital

    15.9 hrs • 7/1/14 • Unabridged
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  7. 9.2 hrs • 5/27/2014 • Unabridged

    This social history on the influx of American heiresses marrying into titled English families serves as an inspiration for the award-winning television series Downton Abbey. From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles—just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details—plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette—To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.

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    To Marry an English Lord

    9.2 hrs • 5/27/14 • Unabridged
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  8. 0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
    6.4 hrs • 4/16/2013 • Unabridged

    A girl scarred by her past, a refugee mother uncertain of her future, and the five little girls who brought them together After nearly dying of breast cancer in her twenties, Sarah Thebarge fled everything—her successful career, her Ivy League education, and a failed relationship on the East Coast—and started over in Portland, Oregon. She was hoping to quietly pick up the pieces of her broken life, but instead she met Hadhi and her daughters, and set out on an adventure she’d never anticipated. Hadhi was fighting battles of her own. A Somali refugee abandoned by her husband, she was struggling to raise five young daughters in a culture she didn’t understand. When their worlds collided, Hadhi and the girls were on the brink of starvation in their own home, “invisible” in a neighborhood of strangers. As Sarah helped Hadhi and the girls navigate American life, her outreach to the family became a source of courage and a lifeline for herself. Poignant, and at times shattering, Sarah Thebarge’s riveting memoir invites listeners into her story, finding connection, love, and redemption in the most unexpected places.

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    The Invisible Girls

    6.4 hrs • 4/16/13 • Unabridged
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  9. 8.1 hrs • 4/2/2013 • Unabridged

    One of our most incisive and committed journalists—author of the classic All the Livelong Day—shows us the real human cost of our economic follies. The Great Recession has thrown huge economic chal­lenges at almost all Americans save the superaffluent few, and we are only now beginning to reckon up the human toll it is taking. Down the Up Escalator is an urgent dispatch from the front lines of our vast collective struggle to keep our heads above water and maybe even—someday—get ahead. Garson has interviewed an economically and geographically wide variety of Americans to show the pain­ful waste in all this loss and insecurity, and describe how individuals are coping. Her broader historical focus,  though, is on the causes and consequences of the long stag­nation of wages and how it has resulted in an increasingly desperate reliance on credit and a series of ever-larger bubbles—stocks, technology, real estate. This is no way to run an economy, or a democracy. From the members of the Pink Slip Club in New York, to a California home health-care aide on the eve of eviction, to a subprime mortgage broker who still thinks it could have worked, Down the Up Escalator presents a sobering picture of what happens to a society when it becomes economically organized to benefit only the very rich and the quick-buck speculators. But it also demonstrates the wit and resilience of ordinary Americans—and why they deserve so much bet­ter than the hand they’ve been dealt.

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    Down the Up Escalator by Barbara Garson

    Down the Up Escalator

    8.1 hrs • 4/2/13 • Unabridged
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  10. 11.7 hrs • 10/29/2012 • Unabridged

    A groundbreaking examination of wealth disparity, income inequality, and the new global elite from the author of Sale of the Century There has always been some gap between rich and poor in this country, but in the last few decades what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Alarmingly, the greatest income gap is not between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, but within the wealthiest 1 percent of our nation—as the merely wealthy are left behind by the rapidly expanding fortunes of the new global super-rich. Forget the 1 percent; Plutocrats proves that it is the wealthiest 0.1 percent who are outpacing the rest of us at break-neck speed. Cracking open the tight-knit world of the new global super-rich is Chrystia Freeland, an acclaimed business journalist who has spent nearly two decades reporting on the new transglobal elite. She parses an internal Citigroup memo that urges clients to design portfolios around the international “Plutonomy” and not the national “rest”; follows Russian, Mexican, and Indian oligarchs during the privatization boom as they manipulate the levers of power to commandeer their local economies; breaks down the gender divide between the vast female-managed “middle class” and the world’s one thousand billionaires; shows how, by controlling both the economic and political institutions of their nation, the richest members of China’s National People’s Congress have amassed more wealth than every branch of American government combined—the president, his cabinet, the justices of the Supreme Court, and both houses of Congress. Though the results can be shocking, Freeland dissects the lives of the world’s wealthiest individuals with empathy, intelligence, and deep insight. Intelligently written, powerfully researched, and propelled by fascinating original interviews with the plutocrats themselves, Plutocrats is a tour-de-force of social and economic history and the definitive examination of inequality in our time.

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    Plutocrats

    11.7 hrs • 10/29/12 • Unabridged
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  11. 9.2 hrs • 9/13/2012 • Unabridged

    Five hundred feet underground, Jeanne Marie Laskas asked a coal miner named Smitty, “Do you think it’s weird that people know so little about you?” He replied, “I don’t think people know too much about the way the whole damn country works.” Hidden America intends to fix that. Like John McPhee and Susan Orlean, Laskas dives deep into her subjects and emerges with character-driven narratives that are gripping, funny, and revelatory. In Hidden America, the stories are about the people who make our lives run every day—and yet we barely think of them. Laskas spent weeks in an Ohio coal mine and on an Alaskan oil rig; in a Maine migrant labor camp, a Texas beef ranch, the air traffic control tower at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a California landfill, an Arizona gun shop, the cab of a long-haul truck in Iowa, and the stadium of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders. Cheerleaders? Yes. They, too, are hidden America, and you will be amazed by what Laskas tells you about them: hidden no longer.

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    Hidden America

    9.2 hrs • 9/13/12 • Unabridged
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  12. 7.2 hrs • 6/12/2012 • Unabridged

    Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after—from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball—imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters. How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite—one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it. Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Twilight of the Elites describes how the society we have come to inhabit—utterly forgiving at the top and relentlessly punitive at the bottom—produces leaders who are out of touch with the people they have been trusted to govern. Hayes argues that the public’s failure to trust the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives. Upending well-worn ideological and partisan categories, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times. Twilight of the Elites is the defining work of social criticism for the post-bailout age.

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    Twilight of the Elites

    7.2 hrs • 6/12/12 • Unabridged
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  13. 13.0 hrs • 6/11/2012 • Unabridged

    The top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. And, as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains, while those at the top enjoy the best health care, education, and benefits of wealth, they fail to realize that “their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” Stiglitz draws on his deep understanding of economics to show that growing inequality is not inevitable: moneyed interests compound their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, trampling on the rule of law, and undermining democracy. The result: a divided society that cannot tackle its most pressing problems. With characteristic insight, Stiglitz examines our current state, then teases out its implications for democracy, for monetary and budgetary policy, and for globalization. He closes with a plan for a more just and prosperous future.

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    The Price of Inequality

    13.0 hrs • 6/11/12 • Unabridged
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  14. 16.6 hrs • 2/28/2012 • Unabridged

    The world’s largest company, Wal-Mart Stores, has revenues higher than the gross domestic product of all but twenty-five of the world’s countries. Its employees outnumber the populations of almost one hundred nations. The world’s largest asset manager, a New York company called BlackRock, controls assets greater than the national reserves of any country on the planet. A private philanthropy, the Gates Foundation, spends as much worldwide on health care as the World Health Organization. The rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. Power, Inc. provides a fresh, timely look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states. Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat wandering off from his master and inadvertently triggering the birth of the oldest company still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions. A fast-paced tale in which champions of liberty are revealed to be paid pamphleteers of moneyed interests and greedy scoundrels trigger changes that have lifted billions from deprivation, Power, Inc. traces the bruising jockeying for influence right up to today’s financial crises, growing inequality, broken international system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets. Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario, a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have important advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to succeed in the years ahead.

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    Power, Inc. by David Rothkopf

    Power, Inc.

    16.6 hrs • 2/28/12 • Unabridged
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  15. 8.4 hrs • 11/21/2011 • Unabridged

    Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett offer groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality—not greater wealth—is the mark of the most successful societies and offer new ways to achieve it. It is a well-established fact that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. The Spirit Level, based on thirty years of research, takes this truth a step further. One common factor links the healthiest and happiest societies: the degree of equality among their members. Further, more unequal societies are bad for everyone within them—the rich and middle class as well as the poor. The remarkable data assembled in The Spirit Level exposes stark differences not only among the nations of the first world but even within America’s fifty states. Almost every modern social problem—poor health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness—is more likely to occur in a less-equal society. Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett lay bare the contradictions between material success and social failure in the developed world. But they do not merely tell us what’s wrong. They offer a way toward a new political outlook, shifting from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more sustainable society.

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    The Spirit Level

    Foreword by Robert B. Reich
    Read by Clive Chafer
    8.4 hrs • 11/21/11 • Unabridged
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  16. 7.0 hrs • 11/1/2011 • Unabridged

    The rich are not only getting richer, they are becoming more dangerous. Starting in the early 1980s, the top one percent broke away from the rest of us to become the most unstable force in the economy. An elite that had once been the flat line on the American income charts—models of financial propriety—suddenly set off on a wild ride of economic binges. Not only do they control more than a third of the country’s wealth, their increasing vulnerability to the booms and busts of the stock market wreak havoc on our consumer economy, financial markets, communities, employment opportunities, and government finances. Robert Frank’s insightful analysis provides the disturbing big picture of high-beta wealth. His vivid storytelling brings you inside the mortgaged mansions, blown-up balance sheets, repossessed Bentleys and Gulfstreams, and wrecked lives and relationships. The author shows how one couple frittered away a fortune trying to build America’s biggest house—90,000 square feet with 23 full bathrooms, a 6,000 square foot master suite with a bed on a rotating platform—only to be forced to put it on the market because “we really need the money”;how repo men are now the scavengers of the wealthy, picking up private jets, helicopters, yachts, and racehorses—the shiny remains of a decade of conspicuous consumption financed with debt, asset bubbles, “liquidity events,” and soaring stock prices;how “big money ruins everything” for communities such as Aspen, Colorado, whose over-reliance on the rich created a stratified social scene of velvet ropes and A-lists and crises in employment opportunities, housing, and tax revenues;how California’s worst budget crisis in history is due in large part to reliance on the volatile incomes of the state’s tech tycoons; andthe bitter divorce of a couple who just a few years ago made the Forbes 400 list of the richest people, the firing of their enormous household staff of 110, and how one former spouse learned the marvels of shopping at Marshalls, filling your own gas tank, and flying commercial. Robert Frank’s stories and analysis brilliantly show that the emergence of the high-beta rich is not just a high-class problem for the rich. High-beta wealth has national consequences: America’s dependence on the rich + great volatility among the rich = a more volatile America. Cycles of wealth are now much faster and more extreme. The rich are a new “Potemkin Plutocracy,” and the important lessons and consequences are brought to light of day in this engrossing book.

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    The High-Beta Rich

    7.0 hrs • 11/1/11 • Unabridged
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