The Rich and How They Got That Way

The Rich and How They Got That Way

How the Wealthiest People of All Time From Genghis Khan to Bill Gates Made Their Fortunes

Book - 2000 | 1st ed.
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What does Bill Gates have in common with Genghis Khan, the thirteenth-century conqueror who wanted to own the world but settled for just five million square miles? Or, for that matter, what does Gates have to do with Pope Alexander IV, whom historians describe as a scoundrel, saint, charlatan, and samaritan? Or Richard Arkwright, the eighteenth-century industrialist with the ultimate rags-to-riches story, who claimed that if he lived long enough he could repay Britain's entire national debt? These four men were among the richest people in history, and they and six others tell a dramatic and important story -- how the wealthy have made, invested, and spent their money over the past thousand years. A millennium ago, plunder was a primary source of great fortunes. In the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, plunder became too dangerous, and trade took over as the source of great riches. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the earliest capitalists and bankers pool risk, making money with money. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries belonged to merchants and industrialists, who recognized the emergence of a new consumer society. In the twentieth century, the key to becoming wealthy was appealing to the mass market, and no one did it better than Bill Gates and his computer software. What do early millionaires, who prospered by killing their enemies, have in common with the modern wizards of spreadsheets? For one thing, successful warriors, like prosperous capitalists, could do what's now called "thinking outside the box." They smelled opportunity where others saw obstacles. The fact that something had never been done was a goad, not a halter, to the self-made wealthy, whether they were thieves or chief executive officers -- or both. The Rich and How They Got That Wayis an informative and entertaining look at the very rich and how they got their money, used it, and sometimes frittered it away. Through their stories Cynthia Crossen traces the major financial, social, and technological developments that have shaped the world we live in. Told with wit and charm, the stories of some of the great characters of the past thousand years come alive: -- Machmud of Ghazni, the ruler who killed tens of thousands of Indians for their gold and in forty years of nearly constant warfare never lost a battle. -- Mansa Musa, the African king who executed anyone who sneezed in his presence and left a trail of gold wherever he went. -- Jacob Fugger, the fifteenth-century German banker who impertinently declared, "the king reigns, but the bank rules," managed the Pope's money, and whose aggressive debt collection techniques on behalf of the papacy repelled Martin Luther and helped provoke him into launching the Protestant Reformation. -- John Law, the Pied Piper of paper money, who became so popular that people would overturn their carriages if they passed him in the street, hoping to draw his attention and buy some stock. -- Howqua, the nineteenth-century Chinese trader who made millions on opium. -- Hetty Green, whose stock-market genius made her a millionaire, and who was so miserly that she tried to get her son into a charity hospital when he hurt his leg. The way wealth is created has changed so much that rich people on either end of the millennium could almost be two different species. Yet there are similarities, too. The twenty-first-century wealthy want big houses, political power, gold jewelry, and freedom from restraint -- just like the wealthy of the eleventh century. And the people who become wealthy share some personality traits, too, such as aggression, egotism, and determination.The Rich and How They Got That Wayfollows the trajectory of wealth from past to present and proves, once and for all, that the rich are different from everyone else.
Publisher: New York : Crown Business, c2000.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780812932676
Branch Call Number: 920.073 C951
Characteristics: xxxii, 286 p. ; 24 cm.


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