Rewriting Machiavelli's The Prince for Our Timeby James SherryPublished by Palgrave Macmillan, £19.50.(Buy at Amazon)
Machiavelli's The Prince (published in 1532) is rightly regarded as one of the greatest books on leadership, as well an ironic commentary on the battle between democracy and dictatorship in Renaissance Italy. In The Oligarch, James Sherry attempts to rewrite Machiavelli's masterpiece for the modern age. In this case, its intended audience is not a 16th-century Italian prince, but the 21st-century technology tycoon, and Trump backer, Elon Musk.
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Sherry's basic argument is that all modern societies, even nominal democracies, are really controlled by wealthy and powerful elites, and run in their interests. He makes some acute observations about modern life, showing how companies integrate newly acquired firms into their wider culture and how the wealthy have taken advantage of American's diffuse power structure and lax campaign finance laws to influence the political agenda.
Overall, Sherry comes to the pessimistic conclusion that democracy does not stop oligarchs, and in some cases may even end up increasing their influence. Indeed, he argues that the best that people can hope for is that they are tamed and made to work in everyone's interest. He overstates his case at times and verges on conspiracy theory, but this is an interesting spin on the topical issues of power and inequality in society.
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
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