HuffPost Book of the Month!
Shadow Elite is Arianna's January Book Club selection.

 

SHADOW ELITE - Review Excerpts


The First HuffPost Book Club Pick of 2010: Shadow Elite by Janine Wedel

Arianna Huffington: My first HuffPost Book Club selection of 2010 is Janine Wedel's Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market. It's a gripping, disquieting book….

- The Huffington Post (read review)

Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market

"Using her expertise in Eastern European communist governments, author and public policy professor Wedel (Collision and Collusion) has pulled together a shocking expose of those dismantling U.S. democracy from the inside....This fascinating, authoritative wake-up call should satisfy any American who wants a handle on the republic's most successful agents of corruption."

- Publishers Weekly gives Shadow Elite a starred review (read review)

"The serious study of global affairs is usually left to political scientists, economists, lawyers and journalists...Now, however, one anthropologist has turned the profession's pith-helmeted gaze on the top-level politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen who make up the global elite in an attempt to document how well they do their jobs. It sounds like a stretch, but in fact there is something uniquely exhilarating about studying the White House or the International Monetary Fund using the same methods that one would study ritual incest among aboriginal Guyanans."

- Financial Times (read review)

"Wedel (George Mason Univ.) presents an arresting theory of power that deserves wide attention....as a thinker she is in the same league as John Kenneth Galbraith and Charles Lindblom."

- Choice (read review)

"Important new book" "I strongly recommend this book."

- Sociology (read review)

"Anthropologist Janine R. Wedel has made an important contribution to the effort to conceptualize the increasingly problematic role of elites in American government and politics."

- Public Administration Review (read review)

"Two distinct audiences will find much reward in reading Janine R. Wedel's Shadow Elite. First, those concerned with the extant focus of the book: U.S. political-economic issues and public policy—albeit in a global context—and the trajectories of America’s neoconservatives. It is a vital area of inquiry and one that has considerable commercial appeal in light of the current power shift that has taken place in the United States; a power shift that allows a more objective, retrospective appraisal of the rise of the neoconservatives. Wedel's central thesis, that the cultures of the Cold War impacted greatly on neoconservatism, surely deserves a critical appraisal. However, a second, perhaps more shadowy audience will be interested in Shadow Elite as a work of anthropology and as an example of the cutting edge of the discipline."

- Contemporary Sociology (read review)

"Over the holidays I read a great book by Janine Wedel called Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market. It's a gripping, disquieting book that exposes and explains why it's been so hard to bring about any real change in our country — why Washington no longer seems capable of addressing the problems our nation faces…."

- Los Angeles Times (read review)

""Janine Wedel examines decision-making in the White House or the International Monetary Fund using the same methods that are used to study incest rituals of primitive tribes in Guyana." - wrote the Financial Times reviewer, about the latest book of American anthropologist Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market. But this is not a book in the field of anthropology, but policy. In my opinion, one of the most important that has appeared in recent years."
[Witold Gadomski, "Can democratic capitalism survive? The invisible hand of power (Czy demokratyczny kapitalizm przetrwa? Niewidzialna reka wladzy)." Gazeta Wyborcza, March 1, 2010.]

- Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland's main daily) (read review)

"Wedel's book is a clarion call against some insidious threats to a healthy democracy....Government and quasi-government form a much bigger and more complex tangle than ever before. Also, round-the-clock cable television and other new media create a demand for instant commentary that highly partisan voices can artfully fill...And lobbyists' money is sloshing around Washington, looking for direct and indirect outlets."

- The Washington Monthly (read review)

"Janine R. Wedel throws light on how power brokering by The Shadow Elite (Basic Books) undermines our government and democracy itself."

- Vanity Fair features Shadow Elite in "Hot Type" (read review)

Shadow Elite ... is a gripping, disquieting book.

- Chicago Tribune (read review)

"Who is really in charge of our country? That’s the question Janine R. Wedel sets out to answer in Shadow Elite, and she points a finger squarely at Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz, among others. This 'shadow elite' looks unnervingly similar from one administration to the next, she writes, and a close examination also reveals that the division between public and private work is hard to discern. These power brokers have been safeguarded from standard ethics and even an obligation to the public they supposedly serve. Wedel traces the shadow elite from the Reagan era to the present day and draws the family tree of influence as it has been handed down."

- The Daily Beast selects Shadow Elite as a "Hot Read" (read review)

"Any time you turn on the television these days, you'll find pundits sounding off on the policy debate du jour....As Janine R. Wedel writes in her new book...the rise of a new breed of confidence men and women — think-tank members, government advisers, business consultants and television pundits — upend our democracy."

- AlterNet (read review)

"Wedel makes a compelling case, supported by a wealth of evidence. Her call for a new paradigm of cheques and balances resilient enough to match the flexibility of political actors is timely and important. Citizens with an interest in political reform and accountability would do well to weave her arguments into their demands."

- Inter Press Service (read review)

"For academics, activists, and policy makers engaged in strengthening government accountability and transparency, Wedel's work makes for a necessary though at times sobering read....Written with journalistic clarity without sacrificing theoretical and analytic rigor, Shadow Elite sheds light on a phenomenon largely hidden from the public gaze. Good scholarship, as Wedel herself notes (p. 205), seeks to understand before changing the world. In this, the book succeeds admirably.."

- Global Integrity Commons (read review)

"What makes Wedel's book so valuable is that she doesn't indulge in conspiracy theories that can't be proven; she provides the facts and describes how this informal group of elitists is fluid in moving among the powerful institutions that control public policy, including government."

- BuzzFlash (read review)

"Janine Wedel is a brilliant social scientist who has articulated a problem that is often sideswept by the powerful information industry: the fact that "upending rules and authority" (ix) has become the norm in virtually all countries, and the goal is to increase one's own status and influence."

- The Sarmatian Review (read review)

"The core idea of the "Shadow elite" is the observation that some important phenomena, … typical for communistic and transitional states, are starting to occur also in model democracy such as the United States.… Some ideas of Wedel are surely brilliant. She states important questions and offers original answers. What makes Wedel's book so valuable is that it also contains useful heuristics for other researchers."

- Kultura i Edukacja (read review)

"S'intitola Shadow Elite ovvero Elite ombra ed è scritto da una professoressa universitaria molto rispettata Janine Wedel che con straordinaria precisione documentaria, spiega come operino le élite che riescono a condizionare democrazia e libero mercato. Le definisce le flex-net e porta numerosi esempi concreti, con tanto di nome e cognome."

- Il Cuore del Mondo (read review in Italian)

"Janine R. Wedel stellt in Shadow Elite äußerst überraschende Verbindungen zwischen zwei entgegengesetzten Entwicklungen in der amerikanischen Gesellschaft her: zum einen die Pseudo-Privatisierung weiter Teile der amerikanischen Verwaltung, zum anderen die Personalisierung von Entscheidungen in der Politik. Die gemeinsame Klammer ihrer Analysen ist das Konzept der "Flexians"."

- Compliance Praxis, Austria
  (read review online or in PDF in German)

"Wedel presents a serious, thoughtful, and thorough examination of 21st-century political culture here, fully documented.…Shadow Elite is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn the rules of the game, either for personal gain or for self-defense."

- Curled up with a Good Book (read review)

"Reinventing America: Just End the Budget-Busting Shadow Government."

- The Globalist (read review)

Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market is "an important new book."

- Web of Democracy (read review)

"Book of the Year: Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, by Janine Wedel. It came out at very end of 2009 but still is the book of the year."

- Global Engagement: The World Affairs Blogs Network (read review)

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