In The Virtue of Prosperity, Dinesh D'Souza examines the spiritual and social crisis spawned by the new economy and new technologies of the last ten years. D'Souza questions the basic premise of the American dream that prosperity and "progress" will better the human condition. Anchored in history, rich in anecdote, and supported by state-of-the-art data, The Virtue of Prosperity is a tough-minded critique of our high-tech culture, with a surprising prescription for doing well and doing good.
This latest work may mark D'Souza's graduation from a promising to an important writer, a possible heir to Michael Lewis's role as an insightful chronicler of our times. After serving a year in the Reagan White House, he wrote two conservative tracts, Illiberal Education (1991) and The End of Racism (1995). These well-argued, one-sided books established D'Souza as a B-list conservative commentator. In 1997, his political biography of Ronald Reagan achieved acclaim for its nuanced insights, even from some who didn't agree with D'Souza's politics. The new volume finds D'Souza wandering around the country discussing how to be hip, rich and wired with Internet billionaires, street people and regular folks. He wants to know if the techno-rich are different from other rich, whether the superrich act like the merely rich and whether most rich people are guilty, driven, shallow or happy. Lengthy discussions ensue on the meaning of inequality, who gets rich and how, the history of wealth in the world and what the future holds for the wealthy and the wired. Some Reagan-style homilies lead into predictable philosophical essays that may interest intellectual Republicans. But other stories show a sharp pen and sharper eye that transcends polarized politics, leading to philosophical reflections that are much deeperDor at least less predictableDthan in D'Souza's first two works, and delivered in a unique voice and with an unusually light touch.