Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West

Justin Farrell (Princeton University Press)
Book cover

Billionaire Wilderness” examines how today’s richest people are using the natural environment to solve the existential dilemmas they face. 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 with individuals ranging from tech CEOs, Wall Street financiers, and oil magnates to the rural poor who live among the ultra-wealthy and often work for them. Farrell discovered that the affluent of Teton County are people burdened by stigmas, guilt, and status anxiety — and that they appropriate nature and rural people to create more virtuous and deserving versions of themselves. “Billionaire Wilderness” explores the far-reaching consequences of the massive accrual of wealth, and offers a portrait of a changing American West where romanticizing rural poverty and conserving nature can be lucrative — socially as well as financially.

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