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Publisher's Summary

An inside look at the secretive world of elite philanthropists - and how they're quietly wielding ever more power to shape American life in ways both good and bad.

While media attention focuses on famous philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Charles Koch, thousands of donors are at work below the radar promoting a wide range of causes. David Callahan charts the rise of these new power players and the ways they are converting the fortunes of a second Gilded Age into influence. He shows how this elite works behind the scenes on education, the environment, science, LGBT rights, and many other issues - with deep impact on government policy. Above all, he shows that the influence of the Givers is only beginning, as new waves of billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg turn to philanthropy. Based on extensive research and interviews with countless donors and policy experts, this is not a brief for or against the Givers but a fascinating investigation of a power shift in American society that has implications for us all.

©2017 David Callahan (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Makes a strong case for greater oversight as megawealthy individuals, driven by the tech billionaires and committed to the 'Giving Pledge,' attempt to redistribute much of their wealth during their lifetimes. Not all gloom-and-doom, Callahan includes many positive examples in this fascinating look into perhaps one of the least understood trends in the public square." (Dan Kaplan, Booklist)
"An intriguing look at the world of big-ticket philanthropy.... An eye-opening view of a vast sector of the economy that lies in the shadows but has undue influence, for ill or good. The best part of Callahan's book is not its account of the various players in this mega-giving, the Zuckerbergs and Bill Gateses of the world, but instead his view of the machinery that has grown up to surround big giving." ( Kirkus)
"A thoughtful call for transparency and oversight in the charity sector. Callahan discusses a range of efforts, both well known and less so. This striking, thought-provoking work is perfectly timed as American activists move to confront a new presidential administration." ( Publishers Weekly)

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  • Marc
  • Scottsdale, AZ United States
  • 09-07-17

being charitable isn't as easy as you would think

I've learned many things in this book. Great wealth can dictate great changes. Great wealth philanthropy can also elicit push back and anger. By feeding billions of charitable dollars to the institutions of today, it appears that we get the same results that we have today. If we would like new results we're going to have to find new ideas and different types of institutions.

At the heart of the great inequalities lies the difference between what the lowest worker earns and what the highest workers earn. The highest workers in some companies earn tens of thousands times the lowest workers in the very same company . When five people in the United States have as much wealth as the bottom 45% of this country, a perfect recipe for great social discord and unrest is generated. This disparity brings hunger, pain, suffering, crime, distrust and a sense of hopelessness in 99% of Americans. When you don't have the wealth and financial reserves two create a prosperous home life for your family, this leads to desperation in the family which in turn leads to nowhere good for the entire Society.

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Read this and learn, think, reflect on philanthropy

Solid data and analysis, a nice mixture of a journalistic approach and editorializing with recommendations.

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  • Rose
  • 02-01-18

Fascinating insight into the lives of billionaires

Really interesting, by telling the story of philanthropy and charity through the stories of the mega-wealthy. The ultra rich have so much more influence on our lives than you would ever imagine! Billions buy big power, and some billionaires weild this power positively; others, less so. A peek into the lives and interests of the American super-rich!