Being a billionaire is kind of like being a rock star.
Our money-obsessed society tends to celebrate great wealth as evidence of exceptional talent, innovation or accomplishment. In reality, spectacular fortunes are more likely the result of luck, ruthlessness, cheating, or being in the right place at the right time to exploit an opportunity made possible by the insights and efforts of others who paved the way.
Certainly there's no evidence that members of today's elite are any more talented, creative or hardworking than the elite of a generation ago, who received a fraction of the rewards.
If today's rich have shown unusual talent, it's mostly been a talent for rigging the rules in their own favor.
So let's take a quick look at 10 billionaires and some things they probably don't want you to know about them:
Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks are the authors of Billionaires' Ball: Glutton and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality [Beacon, $26.95].