Winners Take All


The Elite Charade of

Changing the World

[Forthcoming from Knopf in fall 2018]


“An insightful and refreshing perspective on some of the most vexing issues this nation confronts. This is an important book from a gifted writer whose honest exploration of complex problems provides urgently needed clarity in an increasingly confusing era.” —Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy


An insider’s incisive and eye-opening account of the hypocrisies lurking behind the global elite’s efforts to “change the world” through philanthropy and free enterprise without confronting their role in creating and perpetuating the very problems they purport to solve.

Anand Giridharadas paints a hugely revealing picture of how the cosmopolitan global elite has co-opted the idea of “changing the world”: reframing social problems as market problems; lavishly rewarding “thought leaders” who peddle winner-friendly theories of progress; and asking always how to do more good but never how to do less harm. Giridharadas hears the limousine confessions of a major charity’s executive, tangles with a former American president about his plutocratic hangers-on, and attends a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity. He poses difficult, urgent questions: Should the world’s gravest problems be solved by unelected elites rather than the public institutions they flout with lobbying and tax loopholes? What does it mean to give millions away if those millions–actually billions–were made selling OxyContin, the drug of choice of the opioid epidemic? And he speaks truth to power: Only by tackling problems through democracy rather than charity with strings attached can we begin to truly change the world. A call to action for both elites and everyday citizens.


Advance praise

“In Anand’s thought-provoking book his fresh perspective on solving complex societal problems is admirable. I appreciate his commitment and dedication to spreading social justice.” —Bill Gates

“A trenchant, humane, and often revelatory investigation by one of the wisest nonfiction writers going.” —Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Winners Take All is the book I have been waiting for—the most important intervention yet regarding elite-driven solutions, a vitally important problem to expose. The book courageously answers so many of the critical questions about how, despite much good will and many good people, we struggle to achieve progress in twenty-first-century America. If you want to be part of the solution, you should read this book.” —Ai-jen Poo, director, National Domestic Workers Alliance
“A brilliant, rising voice of our era takes us on a journey among the global elite in his search for understanding of our tragic disconnect. Thought-provoking, expansive, and timely.” —Isabel Wilkerson, author, The Warmth of Other Suns

Winners Take All boldly exposes one of the great if little-reported scandals of the age of globalization: the domestication of the life of the mind by political and financial power and the substitution of ‘thought leaders’ for critical thinkers. It not only reorients us as we lurch out of a long ideological intoxication; it also embodies the values—intellectual autonomy and dissent—that we need to build a just society.” —Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger

“In this trenchant and timely book, Anand Giridharadas shows how the winners of global capitalism seek to help the losers, but without disturbing the market-friendly arrangements that keep the winners on top. He gives us an incisive critique of corporate-sponsored charities that promote frictionless ‘win-win’ solutions to the world’s problems but disdain the hard, contentious work of democratic politics. An indispensable guide for those perplexed by the rising public anger toward ‘change-making’ elites.” —Michael J. Sandel, author of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets