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High Society: The History of America's Upper Class Hardcover – October 1, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nick Foulkes is a British historian, author, and journalist. He has written books on subjects as diverse as James Bond and Count d Orsay, who was the subject of the biography Last Dandies. His other books include a guide to London restaurants; a history of the Marbella Club; The Bentley Miscellany, The Bentley Era, Dunhill by Design, and Dancing Into Battle: A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo, in addition to The Carlyc, The Trench Book, Cigar Style, and Mitimoto Published by Assouline.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Assouline (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2759402886
  • ISBN-13: 978-2759402885
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"High Society" by Nick Foulkes is a captivating book on the colorful exploits of the upper class men and women. The following is a preview sampling of what is in this book:
Page 93: Effects of the Social Register publication, and the origins of Vogue magazine
Pages 111-112: Truman Capote's inner circle of friends and the U.S. Marshall Plan
Pages 137-140: Truman Capote's party details and photos
Pages 142-144: Information and photos on Nan Kempner (admired by Vogue editor in chief Diana Vreeland)
Pages 152-160: Details are compared between the the classes of "Old Money" and "New Money". There are also additional high society photos (including one featured of Tinsley Mortimer).
"High Society" by Nick Foulkes is great for anyone who is curious to find out about what goes on in those who live in affluence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...and a load of info about these people/families in general. The cover is stunning, and what is on the inside is almost like unlocking the doors of these secluded lives that are being lived behind the closed gilded doors. If you are interested in these great and uniquely 'American' lives, then you must see what is in this book.

It is worth the attention.
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Format: Hardcover
On the whole, this is an enjoyable read when you are curious about "Society" and it's alleged "history". No wonder it's written by a historian, and a Brit as well (well, to my knowledge Brits' is one of the most class conscious culture ever).

What you will find is an attempt to string a storyline of what is considered "society", namely the rich and the famous, and their social habits/expectaions (for instance, there is a chapter on "A woman's place") through out, from the colonial times to the turn of the century.

The reason I give it a 3 stars instead of higher is because that was it, the story is somewhat unclear and incomplete when it deals with the present day "society": "Expresso Society" is sketchy at best although I do appreciate the commentary about how Women's place has been expanded from the mere "interior decoration" and "charities foundation boards" to the men's arena are now considered as "actively desirable". How times has changed for women!

Truman Capote's "ascent" to "social greatness" can be elaborated on more as that was one of the jewels of the book's colorful collection of societal anecdotes. ;)
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Format: Hardcover
I'll be the first to admit that Foulke's book is an interesting one to leaf through. It's profusely illustrated and contains many photos that I've not seen anywhere else. The production values are good (as is everything from Editions Assouline, and Foulkes has an undeniably good eye and interesting taste. For those, I'll give the book two solid stars.

However, where the book goes astray begins on the cover, where the subtitle claims "the History of America's Upper Class". What Foulkes depicts and describes are mostly _not_ "America's Upper Class", but America's rich (usually newly-so) and conspicuous. The book focuses almost exclusively on New Yorkers, which is nonsensical, given the actual distribution of America's "upper class".

America most certainly *has* an "upper class", if one is going to use the term correctly, but this, Foulkes refuses to do. What he *really* means is the rich and conspicuous. If that were what constituted "upper class", then surely Roman Abramovich, P. Diddy and Larry Ellison would qualify. Anyone who thinks they actually *do* is clueless. In reality, "upper class" has far less to do with money and face or name recognition than Foulkes seems to grasp.

Take a look at the name-checking in the publisher's blurb: Vanderbilt, Frick, Morgan and Astor. Were or are they "upper class"? The first Vanderbilt of note (Cornelius Sr.) didn't appear on the scene until the 1820s; fairly late in the game. The Frick family's rise is even more recent, with the first rich and conspicuous member (Henry Clay Frick, the grandson of a whiskey distiller) not appearing until 1875 or so. The Morgan family's fortunes were likewise built in the 1860s.
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