Ben Fountain’s most recent book is Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution. He is also the author of a novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and a story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. (May 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

O Billionaires!

Bloomberg by Bloomberg

by Michael R. Bloomberg

From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America

by Howard Schultz, with Joanne Gordon
Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz: all three of these billionaire-politicians began their careers in that semicivilized field of aggression known as sales. Schultz sold Xerox copiers in midtown Manhattan, pounding pavements and making fifty cold calls a day. Bloomberg cut his teeth as a securities trader at the Wall Street firm of Salomon Brothers, where, as one of his former partners put it, you had to come to work “ready to bite the ass off a bear.” And Trump, of course, peddled lifestyle fantasies in the form of “prestige” real estate high in the sky. They worked so hard, these strivers, and all three have told us many times in many ways that they have lived the American dream. Underlying their shifts from commerce to politics is the premise that the skills one develops in business translate more or less directly to the political realm.