The End of Power book review

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn't What It Used to BeThe End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moisés Naím

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Moise Naim offers an exhaustive account of all the ways power is more diffuse and less easy to hold onto in the contemporary era. The “end of power” affects all players too: corporations, philanthropies, religions, NGOs, and of course governments. He argues this is the result of three concurrent revolutions:

1) The More Revolution: there is more of everything now, especially people who live longer and have access to more economic and technological resources, and it is “overwhelming the means of control”

2) The Mobility Revolution: all these people are moving more than prior generations, and that makes them harder to control; they are no captive audiences anymore

3) The Mentality Revolution: people’s expectations are outpacing the capacity of governments to satisfy them; new standards and norms mean people aren’t captive to old institutions

It’s nearly impossible to summarize all the ways in which Naim catalogues power’s decay across different sectors and venues. It’s so exhaustive, it’s exhausting to read. At times his tone is strident and evangelistic. He isn’t wrong, or at least is arguments always seem sound and obviously come from a careful and well-informed observer of the global socio-politico-economic landscape. But at times it reads like a string of popular essays.

Despite my problems with the writing style—and his unexpected recommendation to strengthen political parties as one counteraction—this is an important book, especially if it is being read and taken seriously by half of the major world leaders who blurbed the book. This was even the inaugural book of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook book club!

I expect we will be talking about the “End of Power” for many years to come: it’s worth a thorough browse.

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