4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
What do you get if you throw the humor of Monty Python and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy into a blender along with some heaping helpings of 1960's pop artistry, mix it all up, pour it into a glass and drink it through a straw made of American politics? Look, I have no idea how any of that would even happen because it sounds ridiculous. But if we're really going to play this out, in a world where somehow that was physically possible, you'd probably end up with The Billionaires' Handbook: A User's Guide to Wealth and Power by Andrew Stevenson.
The Billionaires' Handbook: A User's Guide to Wealth and Power is a brilliant spoof of the 1% superrich that rule our nation. Taking on a first-person narrative voice, this frighteningly-real-but-totally-kidding-or-else-we're-all-screwed book explains how America ended up where it is today. Andrew tells readers, using a list of rules created by the rich themselves, how the rich not only keep getting richer, they employ tactics to ensure that they'll remain in the 1% for generations... or at least until the world itself rebels and wipes humanity out.
The first-person narration is superb. In fact, the book won me over when the first page had only four words on it: "Nice to Meet You". After a tiny bit of explanation, "Andrew" (the unnamed superrich narrator) writes "Don't worry, I believe in illustrating my points with actual illustrations. So this shouldn't be too painful." Oh, how wrong you are.
The Billionaires' Handbook: A User's Guide to Wealth and Power isn't painful because it's bad, it's painful because it's terrifyingly real. Beside images that blend 90's clip art with 60's pop art, "Andrew" tells us how the superrich don't break rules, they follow them... because they created them. Tax codes that allow the 1% to practically avoid taxes altogether? Check. Using celebrities and the internet to keep us distracted? Check. Owning the media so only the "right" news is told in the first place? You've got it! Money may not buy happiness, but enough of it sure buys pretty much everything and everyone.
"Convincing the world that you are having fun every minute of every day is downright pathological but if it helps us sell more eyeliner, please carry on.
Remember that “influencer” and “follower” are also used to describe members of a religious cult so you might be eligible for tax-free status."
I don't think I've ever highlighted more amazing quotes in a book than I have in The Billionaires' Handbook: A User's Guide to Wealth and Power. Pages have a minimal number of words, much like a children's book, and Andrew really knows how to put every bit of textual real estate to good use. The artwork beside his writing is superb as well; while it smacks of a little simplicity (the clip art vibe), Andrew has created dozens of sharp, creative pieces, many of which would look right at home framed on one's wall. These are equally humorous and illustrative of what's been written, often incorporating parody (a man dodging bullets a la The Matrix that say "Taxes" and arbitrage knobs turned to 11, for example) or some other form of inspiration (such as a set of skyscrapers casting a shadow that looks like a middle finger). Then there are the superrich themselves, illustrated as famous figures like Uncle Sam, all of which have a blindfold over their eyes.
I'll admit that I was a bit confused at first - I'm a firm believer in burying my head in the sand and ignoring politics - but I learned a lot from the book. The humor is spectacular, and I didn't see any grammatical errors whatsoever. But the best thing about the book is that, while the author sets a very bleak scene for the past and particularly for the present, he lays out a potential future where the 99% take back our country. Under the guise of the superrich narrator getting older and wanting to be remembered as "The Greatest American of the Twenty-First Century," "Andrew" offers up some sage advice for getting out of this mess. Far too often, books that rip readers' rose-colored glasses from their faces make some valid points about the "real world", but then leave us to wallow in hopeless misery.
Aside from the bit of confusion I felt early in the book, I have nothing negative to report about The Billionaires' Handbook: A User's Guide to Wealth and Power. I'd heartily recommend it to anyone interested in politics or the state of America today, as well as lovers of Monty Python-esque humor. My rating for the book is 4 out of 4 stars. Aside from the aforementioned middle finger shadow, there's a quote from Monty Python's Life of Brian and a singular image in which a man holds up a Bible in front of a stained glass window with a dollar sign in it, but both successfully fulfill their purposes of mocking those who don't stand up to evil and those who use the Bible as a tool, not for religion, respectively.
The Billionaires’ Handbook
View: on Bookshelves