Dead End Gene Pool

  • by Wendy Burden
  • Narrated by Coleen Marlo
  • 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy Burden's birth, the Burdens had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline - and were rarely seen not holding a drink.
In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites listeners to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother. At the heart of the story is Wendy's glamorous and aloof mother, who, after her husband's suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain-smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize).
Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, Dead End Gene Pool offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: The rich are different.

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What the Critics Say

"In this dark and humorous memoir Wendy Burden takes us inside the family circus that was her side of the Vanderbilt dynasty, bringing American class structure, sibling rivalry and the decline of the bluebloods vividly to life." (Gus Van Sant)
"This blueblood tale is spun so deftly and so charmingly that it is easy to forget that this it is essentially a sad story of family neglect and degeneration. Burden joins the ranks of such memoirists as Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris, who have successfully mined their dysfunctional childhoods for comedic gold." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fun romp, terrible narration

I am loving this story. How else could us average folks peep into the world of the formerly uber-rich blue bloods of the robber baron era? Wendy Burdon deftly manages to report on her family's dysfunction with loving and hilarious portraits and vignettes. HOWEVER, where did poor Audible find this narrator, and how many people listened to this before it was approved?? Marlo refers to Dusty Springfeild's Wishing and Hoping as Wishing and Hopping, prounounces Schlumberger like a burger from the slums, completely mangles French accents, etc. Fingernails on the blackboard... Wendy B, you deserved far better than this! Next time, please read it yourself. You'd not only do it better, but presumably save a few bucks, too!
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- avid reader

Distasteful story, bad narration

Hard to tell which is worse, this story of entitlement and dysfunction presented as witty or the narrator's inability to pronounce a lot of the proper names the author drops with such a thud.
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- Susan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-02-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio