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The super-rich are silently and secretly shaping our world.
In this groundbreaking exploration of historical and contemporary philanthropy, bestselling author Paul Vallelyreveals how this far-reaching change came about.
Vivid with anecdote and scholarly insight, this magisterial survey – from the ancient Greeks to today's high-tech geeks – provides an original take on the history of philanthropy. It shows how giving has, variously, been a matter of honour, altruism, religious injunction, political control, moral activism, enlightened self-interest, public good, personal fulfilment and plutocratic manipulation.
Its narrative moves from the Greek man of honour and Roman patron, via the Jewish prophet and Christian scholastic – through the Elizabethan machiavel, Puritan proto-capitalist, Enlightenment activist and Victorian moralist – to the robber-baron philanthropist, the welfare socialist, the celebrity activist and today's wealthy mega-giver. In the process it discovers that philanthropy lost an essential element as it entered the modern era. The book then embarks on a journey to determine where today's philanthropists come closest to recovering that missing dimension.
Philanthropy explores the successes and failures of philanthrocapitalism, examines its claims and contradictions, and asks tough questions of top philanthropists and leading thinkers – among them Richard Branson, Eliza Manningham-Buller, Jonathan Ruffer, David Sainsbury, John Studzinski, Bob Geldof, Naser Haghamed, Lenny Henry, Jonathan Sacks, Rowan Williams, Ngaire Woods, and the presidents of the Rockefeller and Soros foundations, Rajiv Shah and Patrick Gaspard. In extended conversations they explore the relationship between philanthropy and family, faith, society, art, politics, and the creation and distribution of wealth.
Highly engaging and meticulously researched, Paul Vallely's authoritative account of philanthropy then and now critiques the excessive utilitarianism of much modern philanthrocapitalism and points to how philanthropy can rediscover its soul.
“This is the definitive book on philanthropy – its history, contradictions and future … A deep and probing study of a highly complex practice that is an increasingly powerful force in our world.” —John Gray, Emeritus Professor of European Thought, London School of Economics
“A magisterial treatment of the history of Western philanthropy. Paul Vallely has produced the best single volume on the ideas that have shaped philanthropy, the institutional arrangements that have structured it, and the outsized personalities that have marked it… Stuffed with astonishing stories and illuminating interviews, this book will be a lasting resource for scholars, philanthropic and NGO leaders, and individual donors.” —Rob Reich, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and author of Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better.
“There are good books and there are important books. Good books lay out the lie of the land. Important books change it. This book is both. Beautifully written, passionately argued and crammed full of fascinating detail.” —Giles Fraser, priest, journalist and broadcaster
“Paul Vallely has done all those involved in philanthropy a service with this comprehensive and panoramic overview of the field.” —Dr Beth Breeze, Director, Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent
“Deeply researched and wonderfully written, this book is much more than a sweeping, erudite history. It is a fascinating exploration of why people give – and a powerful call for philanthropy to do a better job of melding empathy with effectiveness.” —David Callahan, Founder & Editor of Inside Philanthropy, Author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age
“Timely and fascinating” —Peter Hennessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London
"Philanthropy is as awesome in breadth as it is meticulous in detail … [the] text is helpfully broken up with interviews that provide a great deal of illumination about different approaches to giving." - Literary Review
"This book deserves the widest possible readership. Paul Vallely has poured five years of research into a highly readable yet deeply serious exploration of the paths taken by the instinct and duty to give." - The Tablet
"In “Philanthropy: From Aristotle to Zuckerberg,” a chronicle every bit as encyclopedic as the title suggests...Mr. Vallely examines the religious roots of philanthropy ... he does a thorough job of tracing these secular claims to the outlook of today’s “philanthrocapitalists,” such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg… Mr. Vallely acknowledges that today’s philanthropists have had notable successes ... But ultimately he wishes that philanthropists would embrace an approach that echoes the older, religious one. “They must listen more carefully,” he writes, and “be more open and accountable in their donations.” " - Wall Street Journal