Please join us on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 7 PM PDT for a discussion of JACKPOT: HOW THE SUPER-RICH REALLY LIVE—AND HOW THEIR WEALTH HARMS US ALL with local author Michael Mechanic in discussion with Dashka Slater (author of THE 57 BUS and ESCARGOT).
Our discussion will be webcast on Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85795898890.
A senior editor at Mother Jones dives into the lives of the extremely rich, showing the fascinating, otherworldly realm they inhabit—and the insidious ways this realm harms us all.
Have you ever fantasized about being ridiculously wealthy? Probably. Striking it rich is among the most resilient of American fantasies, surviving war and peace, expansions and recessions, economic meltdowns and global pandemics. We dream of the jackpot, the big exit, the life-altering payday, in whatever form that takes. (Americans spent $81 billion on lottery tickets in 2019, more than the GDPs of most nations.) We would escape “essential” day jobs and cramped living spaces, bury our debts, buy that sweet spread, and bail out struggling friends and relations. But rarely do we follow the fantasy to its conclusion—to ponder the social, psychological, and societal downsides of great affluence and the fact that so few possess it.
What is it actually like to be blessed with riches in an era of plagues, political rancor, and near-Dickensian economic differences? How mind-boggling are the opportunities and access, how problematic the downsides? Does the experience differ depending on whether the money is earned or unearned, where it comes from, and whether you are male or female, white or black? Finally, how does our collective lust for affluence, and our stubborn belief in social mobility, explain how we got to the point where forty percent of Americans have literally no wealth at all?
These are all questions that Jackpot sets out to explore. The result of deep reporting and dozens of interviews with fortunate citizens—company founders and executives, superstar coders, investors, inheritors, lottery winners, lobbyists, lawmakers, academics, sports agents, wealth and philanthropy professionals, concierges, luxury realtors, Bentley dealers, and even a woman who trains billionaires’ nannies in physical combat, Jackpot is a compassionate, character-rich, perversely humorous, and ultimately troubling journey into the American wealth fantasy and where it has taken us.
About the Author
Michael Mechanic, the author of JACKPOT, is a longtime East Bay resident, Oakland Tech parent, and senior editor at Mother Jones magazine. He is also the former managing editor of the East Bay Express and a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he majored in biochemistry and earned a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism. Mechanic has won numerous awards for his writing, including a “best feature” award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association for a piece about illegal cockfighting culture.
“Economic inequality has never been more gaping in the United States, which makes it the perfect time to read Jackpot, Michael Mechanic’s entertaining and eviscerating peek behind the velvet curtains and into the real lives of America’s Super-Rich. Mechanic provides an eyeopening exposé of the myriad ways in which our nation’s political system unfairly enriches those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom. His myth-busting conclusion is that everyone loses, even the lucky few who have hit the jackpot.” —JANE MAYER, author of Dark Money
“Eye-opening…. often a gleeful sendup of the absurd eccentricities of the superrich…. A scathing but fair indictment of how the mindless worship of wealth makes us all poorer.” —Kirkus Reviews
About Dashka Slater
Dashka Slater has been telling stories since she could talk. An award-winning journalist who writes about criminal justice and other topics for such publications as The New York Times Magazine and Mother Jones, she is also the author of eleven books of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages. Learn more at www.dashkaslater.com.
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