by Knowles, Caroline | London, Greater London
Published 26/05/2022 by Penguin Books Ltd (Allen Lane) in the United Kingdom
Hardback | 336 pages
London is a plutocrat’s paradise, with more resident billionaires than New York, Hong Kong or Moscow. Far from trickling down, their wealth is burning up the environment and swallowing up the city.
But what do we really know about London’s super rich, and the lives they lead?To find out more about this secretive, security-heavy elite, sociologist Caroline Knowles walks the streets of London from the City to suburban Surrey, via Kensington, Notting Hill, Mayfair and elsewhere. Her walks reveal how the wealthy shape the capital in their image, creating a new world of gated communities and luxury developments. A move behind closed doors takes us ever further into the dark heart of the plutocratic city, from multimillion-pound mansions to high-end hotels and gentlemen’s clubs.
Along the way we meet a wide and wickedly entertaining cast of millionaires, billionaires and those who serve them: bankers, aristocrats, tech tycoons, Conservative party donors, butlers, bodyguards, divorce lawyers and many, many more. By turns jaw-dropping, enraging and enlightening, Serious Money explodes the fiction that wealth is a condition to aspire to, revealing the isolation and paranoia which accompany it when the plutocrat’s recompense – a life of unlimited luxury – ultimately proves hollow. It is a powerful reminder us that it is not just the super-rich who get to make the city: we make it too, and could demand something different.
Because serious money is good for no one – not even the rich. ‘Fascinating, punchy, thought-provoking’ Frances O’Grady’Magnificent … Knowles writes with enviable lightness and pace about how money, property, birth, breeding, contacts, secrecy, and servants have created a class that owns and milks London’ Professor Ash Amin, author of Seeing Like a City