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Farrell, Justin

Billionaire Wilderness

The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West

Series:Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology 83


    45,95 € / $52.50 / £44.00*

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    Publication Date:
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    March 2020
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    Aims and Scope

    How rich people use nature to enhance their status, find rural salvation, and resolve the complex predicaments in their lives

    Billionaire Wilderness takes you inside the exclusive world of the ultra-wealthy, showing how today's richest people are using the natural environment to solve the existential dilemmas they face. Justin Farrell spent five years in Teton County, Wyoming, the richest county in the United States, and a community where income inequality is the worst in the nation. He conducted hundreds of in-depth interviews, gaining unprecedented access to tech CEOs, Wall Street financiers, oil magnates, and other prominent figures in business and politics. He also talked with the rural poor who live among the ultra-wealthy and often work for them. The result is a penetrating account of the far-reaching consequences of the massive accrual of wealth, and an eye-opening and sometimes troubling portrait of a changing American West where romanticizing rural poverty and conserving nature can be lucrative—socially as well as economically.

    Weaving unforgettable storytelling with thought-provoking analysis, Billionaire Wilderness reveals how the ultra-wealthy are buying up the land and leveraging one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world to climb even higher on the socioeconomic ladder. The affluent of Teton County are people burdened by stigmas, guilt, and status anxiety—and they appropriate nature and rural people to create more virtuous and deserving versions of themselves. This incisive and compelling book reveals the hidden connections between wealth concentration and the environment, two of the most pressing and contentious issues of our time.


    23 b/w illus. 2 tables.
    one percent; 1 percent; 1 percenters; one percenters; income gap; affluenza; The Slums of Aspen; Lisa Sun-Hee Park; David Naguib Pellow; income inequality; wealth concentration; environmentalism; environmental issues; rural America; American West; gentrification; social stratification; eviction; discrimination; rural poor; land conservation; environmental sustainability; low-wage labor; undocumented immigration; environmental justice
    Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;

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    Justin Farrell is associate professor of sociology at Yale University in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is the author of the award-winning book The Battle for Yellowstone: Morality and the Sacred Roots of Environmental Conflict (Princeton). A native of Wyoming, he lives in New Haven and Denver. Website justinfarrell.org Twitter @J_Farrell


    "This important and innovative book offers a rarely seen glimpse into the lives of the ultra-wealthy, exploring the ways in which they think about status, social inequality, privilege, and the environment in a context where all of these factors collide on a regular basis."—David Naguib Pellow, author of Total Liberation: The Power and Promise of Animal Rights and the Radical Earth Movement

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