Old Money

Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr., Author Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-394-57036-5
Aldrich has been a teacher, journalist and editor (Paris Review, Harper's, etc.)a refutation of cliches about the ``idle rich.'' This accredited scion of the old-money set via his Rockefeller kin writes with great style and wit, making this history of privileged people delightful and entertaining. But there are shadowy reports here, too. Aldrich includes an account about his great-grandfather, a corrupt U.S. Senator from Rhode Island (1881-1911) and other tales of failed noblesse oblige. The positive accomplishments of many upper-class members, however, outweigh the actions of scoundrels, according to the author: absorbing principles taught at schools Aldrich groups as ``St. Midas,'' those to-the-manor-born have been war heroes, contributors to the arts and sciences, and philanthropists. Emblematic is a funny and oddly touching story in which the author describes the ``Dough Nuts'' (``We all have money and we're all a little nuts'') conferring to figure out ways to use their fortunes responsibly. 35,000 first printing. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
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