Books: Buck Passing

THE ULTRA RICH by Vance Packard

Little, Brown; 358 pages; $22.95

Nothing is certain, goes the old saw, but death and taxes. Death, yes. But probably not taxes -- if, that is, one is wealthy enough to hire lawyers and accountants with a working knowledge of loopholes in the Internal Revenue code. Maybe the rich can't take it with them, like other mortals, but they don't have to leave very much of it to Uncle Sam either.

That is the egalitarian theme of Vance Packard's latest venture in pop sociology, which is centered on slapdash but often tantalizing interviews with 30...

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