The Rich and the Super Rich

Lundberg, Ferdinand

Original publication date: 1968
Original publisher: New York: Lyle Stewart
Publication status: Out of print

Original Dust Jacket Copy 
Thirty years ago, a bombshell of a book appeared which told the story of the lords of wealth and their glittering clans. it was called America’s Sixty Families. It rocked the nation and became a classic.

Lundberg showed how America was ruled by a plutocracy of inherited wealth, even under the New Deal. At the time he could only provide a sampling of the economic and political patterns of those families, which, for one reason or another, had come under public scrutiny. In addition to the Sixty Families he dealt with in depth, he was able to outline the probable holdings of a few hundred other families.

Where are they today–those Sixty Families? What ravages of time, death and taxes worked on the mighty fortunes of yesteryear? Is the “Welfare State” robbing them of the opulence they knew in the good old days?

The author, in writing THE RICH AND THE SUPER RICH, had at his disposal infinitely richer data, monographs, Congressional investigations than were available three decades ago. They have made it possible for him to give us a book which is much more than a mere updating of America’s Sixty Families. It is, rather, a systematic study of the entire wealthy class and its familial structure. (In one important aspect It resembles America’s Sixty Families, it is written for the layman to awaken him to the real and little-known situation.)

Lundberg shows that there are 200,000 very wealthy individuals in the United States. Most of them are of some 500 super-millionaire families. Examples are 250 Du Ponts, 73 Rockefellers. Some 61% of the 200,00 inherited their wealth. These families are far wealthier than ever before. (A striking example is that author had to insert a footnote as the book went be press to report that the value of J. Paul Getty’s’ principal holdings in the oil company bearing his name had tripled since the manuscript of THE RICH AND THE SUPER-RICH went to the printer.)

These families have all the old levers of power and pelf plus a whole host of new ones created for them during the intervening decades by the politicians lawyers and judges who serve them.

Ferdinand Lundberg was born in Chicago in the first decade at this century. He was educated in Chicago public schools and entered newspaper work in Chicago. Later he was a financial writer for the Now York Herald Tribune, for whom he covered the New York Stock Exchange for eight years. He first attracted wide attention for his reports of the big stock market crash of 1929.

In the mid 1930s, he began a writing career in the book and magazine field. His Imperial Hearst was the basis for the screen play, Citizen Kane. Other bestsellers include Modern Woman: The Lost Sex (in collaboration) and the book for which he is most noted, America’s Sixty Families. This book was embraced by New Deal leaders and helped to shape the destiny of the Roosevelt Administration in its early years.

During World War II, Lundberg was an economist with the War Production Board and the War Shipping Administration. After the war, he served the Twentieth Century Fund as editor and began teaching–first at Finch College, New York, and then as Adjunct Professor of Social Philosophy at New York University. He took leave of his teaching duties in 1965 to devote full, time to the writing of The Rich and The Super-Rich.

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