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Eat the Rich Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, September 1, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What is it that makes one person rich and another poor? It's a tough question and not one generally suited to laughs, but P.J. O'Rourke--in the audio version of his ironic and insightful book, Eat the Rich--is a master at finding humor in the most unlikely places. Here he travels from Wall Street to Russia, Hong Kong to Cuba on an immensely entertaining quest for economic enlightenment. It's an educational journey wrapped in hilarity, which is especially enjoyable when heard in the surprisingly deep, resonant voice of the author himself. (Running time: three hours, two cassettes) --George Laney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Having chewed up and spat out the politically correct (All the Troubles in the World) and the U.S. government (Parliament of Whores), O'Rourke takes a more global tack. Here, he combines something of Michael Palin's Pole to Pole, a soupcon of Swift's A Modest Proposal and Keynsian garnish in an effort to find out why some places are "prosperous and thriving while others just suck." Stymied by the "puerile and impenetrable" prose of condescending college texts, O'Rourke set forth on a two-year worldwide tour of economic practice (or mal-). He begins amid the "moil and tumult" of Wall Street ("Good Capitalism") before turning to dirt-poor Albania, where, in an example of "Bad Capitalism," free market is the freedom to gamble stupidly. "Good Socialism" (Sweden) and "Bad Socialism" (Cuba) are followed by O'Rourke's always perverse but often perversely accurate take on Econ 101 ("microeconomics is about money you don't have, and macroeconomics is about money the government is out of"). Four subsequent chapters reportedly offer case studies of economic principles, except that Russia, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Shanghai all seem to prove that economic theory is just that. There's lots of trademark O'Rourke humor ("you can puke on the train," he says of a trip through Russia, "you can cook tripe on alcohol stoves and make reeking picnics of smoked fish and goat cheese, but you can't smoke"). There's also the feeling that despite (or maybe because of) his lack of credentials, he's often right. O'Rourke proves that money can be funny without being counterfeit. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; 26-city author tour. (Sept.) FYI: Also available as a Random House audio, $18
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Pgw (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871137607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871137609
  • ASIN: B000B85BFK
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,831,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. J. O'Rourke was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and attended Miami University and Johns Hopkins. He began writing funny things in 1960s "underground" newspapers, became editor-in-chief of National Lampoon, then spent 20 years reporting for Rolling Stone and The Atlantic Monthly as the world's only trouble-spot humorist, going to wars, riots, rebellions, and other "Holidays in Hell" in more than 40 countries. He's written 16 books on subjects as diverse as politics and cars and etiquette and economics. His book about Washington, Parliament of Whores, and his book about international conflict and crisis, Give War a Chance, both reached #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. He is a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard, H. L. Mencken fellow at the Cato Institute, a member of the editorial board of World Affairs and a regular panelist on NPR's Wait... Wait... Don't Tell Me. He lives with his family in rural New England, as far away from the things he writes about as he can get.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I got hooked on P.J. O'Rourke through his work in "Rolling
Stone." Each of his books have usually just been expanded
versions of his gonzo-style of journalism. He is definitely the sick
love child of Hunter S. Thompson (another "Rolling Stone"
family member) and Dave Barry--of course with a twist of Rush
Limbaugh's conservatist flare. His dry wit is interlaced with a keen
eye for the bizarre. He has attacked politicians and Congress in
"Parliament of Whores" (still his best book to date) and the
"hawks" and "doves" in "Give War a
Chance" (enjoyable though not as memorable). This time he takes
on economists who apparently win Nobel prizes simply by boring the
most people. However, he does this by actually bouncing around the
globe, from Wall Street to Havana. And Albania to Hong Kong. And
several other points in between.
He gets deep into a
country. Immersing himself within society itself to develop his theory
of why a country's economic ills are what they are. This is usually
done by attending the local watering holes. If anything else is
redeeming to an O'Rourke work, it's certain that you will always walk
away with an unquenchable urge to have a stiff drink--or maybe
O'Rourke examines and compares several societies and
countries that exhibit the most free of the free market (Hong Kong) or
the country with "good" socialism (Sweden) and
"bad" socialism (Cuba) and several other nations like
Tanzania, Albania and Russia. As well as the U.S. and Shanghai.
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Format: Hardcover
I have never met P. J. O'Rourke, though I've always wanted to. (We probably wouldn't get along, as I don't drink much and wear a hat.) So I have no reason to say this other than the fact that it's true: He is the funniest man on Earth.
It's my contention that humor that is *about* something is far funnier than humor that is nothing more than a grab-bag of exaggerations and incongruities, Dave Barry style. Dave Barry is good--I have all his books too--but every time I get another one, I have this feeling that I've heard all these jokes before. Only the words are different.
P. J. O'Rourke's books are almost always about something--GIVE WAR A CHANCE was about the Gulf War, mostly--that matters. War matters, even dumb wars like Vietnam, though they don't all matter the same way. ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD was about a lot of things that matter in a hurtful sort of way, though the king on that throne is bad government. The significance of the subject matter is what makes the humor so pointed--the absurdities of the Gulf War are far funnier than talking about pigeons letting go on some slob's head.
So in his latest volume P. J. takes on economics. This matters more than anything else on Earth, pretty much, because life on Earth is about work and wealth and what's for supper. I never learned economics because it's taught by men who are basically mummies without the wrappings. The books are unreadable, the graphs devoid of any connection to the real world. Finally, 25 years after getting out of school, I find an economics book by a guy who's still breathing. Furthermore, it's so painfully funny that two days later it's etched so firmly in my head I can still remember nearly all the points he made.
Many of these points are made in the course of P. J.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading the book; it made me laugh even though much of the humor was too flippant and occasionally annoying when he passed off yet another of his pet opinions as the obvious truth.

The major drawback of the book is that it is clear that the author already had his conclusions in mind before he set foot in any of the countries he visited, and he saw everything the way he knew it had to be. I don't even disagree with most of his points, but it bothered me that he was clearly sifting through a mountain of evidence to find the bits that support his point of view. He glossed over many, many "troublesome" points -- eg the free market that he holds up as the best thing for humanity ever invented... isn't even very free; he soundly thrashes the strawman of fairness while ignoring stability, invisible costs, and other pesky drawbacks; and he doesn't mention that no truly free market ever manages to stay that way.
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Format: Paperback
I have read---and found myself going back to---"Eat the Rich" by P.J. O'Rourke. It is insightful, much tongue-in-cheek, honest and disconcerting in his observations, metaphors and conclusions.
Like other reviewers above, I have traveled and found his remarks on the mark. My work involves doing strategic planning, conflict resolution and project design around the world and somehow O'Rourke, captures much of what I saw and observed better than I ever could!!
He does present in a clear, witty writing style some very important learning's about economics, politics and more. He may be known as a conservative, but his economic insights are those of the greatest economist ever: Adam Smith, Mises, Hayek and the school of Austrian Economics.
Even O'Rourke acknowledges his own greater understanding in an interview held:
"'Well, probably the most important of those is the--is
the Friedrich Hay--von Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." It is -- it was
Written in the '40s, during World War II, as a antidote to what Hayek
Saw as the increasing collectivism of politics in the world. He was
protesting against communism and Nazism, but also against the
in--increasing organization and size of the--of the democratic welfare
states. Hayek is one of the great champions of the individual. I
mean, he basically says that individuals are smarter than groups.
Anybody who's ever had to deal with a mob or with Congress
could -- could probably tell you this. One on one, individuals will
make, on average, reasonable decisions, whereas if we put people in a
group -- it's like the difference between Harvard and the Harvard
football team.
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