WHAT: WINNERS TAKE ALL:
The Elite Charade of Changing the World
WHEN: Published by Knopf August 28, 2018
WHERE: The author lives in New York.
WHY: “This damning portrait of contemporary American philanthropy is a must-read.
“In this provocative and passionate look at philanthropy, capitalism, and inequality, Giridharadas criticizes market-based solutions to inequality devised by rich American do-gooders as ultimately counterproductive and self-serving. Giridharadas insists that ‘the idea that after-the-fact benevolence justifies anything-goes capitalism’ is no excuse for ‘avoiding the necessity of a more just and equitable system and a fairer distribution of power.’
“He turns a gimlet eye on philanthropists who make the money they donate by underpaying employees; luxurious philanthropy getaways that focus more on making attendees feel good about themselves than on creating profound change; and tech companies such as Uber, which promises to empower the poor with earning opportunities, but has been accused of exploiting its workers. Giridharadas calls out billionaire venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who opines that ‘sharing is caring’ but refers to labor unions as ‘cartels,’ and profiles Darren Walker, who came from modest beginnings to end up president of the Ford Foundation, where his entreaties to philanthropists to acknowledge structural inequality fall mostly on deaf ears.
“In the end, Giridharadas believes only democratic solutions can address problems of inequality. This damning portrait of contemporary American philanthropy is a must-read for anyone interested in ‘changing the world.’”
–PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred and boxed review
“An excellent book for troubled times.
“This is a very difficult subject to tackle, but Giridharadas executes it brilliantly. Through extensive interviews and research from inside this network, he lays bare the problems with its approach. This must-have title will be of great interest to readers, from students to professionals and everyone in-between, interested in solutions to today’s complex problems.” —James Pekoll, BOOKLIST
“A provocative critique of the kind of modern, feel-good giving that addresses symptoms and not causes.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
. . . . .
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK:
All around us in America is the clank-clank-clank of the new — in our companies and economy, our neighborhoods and schools, our technologies and social fabric. But these novelties have failed to translate into broadly shared progress and the betterment of our overall civilization. American scientists make the most important discoveries in medicine and genetics and publish more biomedical research than those of any other country — but the average American’s health remains worse and slower-improving than that of peers in other rich countries, and in certain years life expectancy actually declines. American inventors create astonishing new ways to learn thanks to the power of video and the Internet, many of them free of charge — but the average twelfth grader tests more poorly in reading today than in 1992. The country has had a “culinary renaissance,” as one publication puts it, one farmers’ market and Whole Foods at a time — but it has failed to improve the nutrition of most people, with the incidence of obesity and related conditions rising over time. The tools for becoming an entrepreneur appear to be more accessible than ever, for the student who learns coding online or the Uber driver — but the share of young people who own a business has fallen by two-thirds since the 1980s. America has birthed a wildly successful online book superstore called Amazon, and another company, Google, has scanned more than twenty-five million books for public use — but illiteracy has remained stubbornly in place and the fraction of Americans who read at least one work of literature a year has dropped by almost a quarter in recent decades. The government has more data at its disposal and more ways of talking and listening to citizens — but only one-quarter as many people find it trustworthy as did in the tempestuous 1960s.