Darrell M. West is the vice president of Governance Studies and the director of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings. He is the author of 19 books on American politics and the recipient of several book awards.
"F. Scott Fitzgerald taught us that the very rich are different from the rest of us. Now Darrell West has taken us on a thoughtful romp through the world of our new billionaire class. At a moment when we have read both glorifications and denunciations of those with unimaginably large fortunes, West has set out to understand and explain who they are and what they do. He couples a moral concern for the cost of rising inequality with a scholar's commitment to telling the story straight. This is both an important book and a good read." --E.J. Dionne, Georgetown University "In the United States and across the world, billionaires are front and center in politics --running for office, bankrolling campaigns and lobbies, pushing policy messages. With a riveting mix of facts and stories, Darrell West tells us who these new plutocrats are, what they think about politics, and how they manuever to get what they want. West faces the tough ethical issues, too, and asks whether watchdogs can still bark at billionaires operating in secret. Billionaires is a must read for all who care about the future of democracy." --Theda Skocpol, Harvard University "As a free-market conservative who hopes to see more money invested in politics, not less, I disagree with many of Darrell West's attitudes and arguments. His book Billionaires is nonetheless a fresh, thought-provoking, clear-eyed view of a bitterly controversial subject, demonstrating that that the prominent participation of plutocrats in politics is a worldwide, and not just American, phenomenon. Even those who reject West's conclusions will enjoy the crisp, readable, and passionately personal style he deploys to make his points." --Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk radio host "The saddest sight in American politics is a US Senator begging a billionaire for his crumbs. Isn't this what we fought in the Cold War, our enemy's charge that American democracy was a sham, that "the Rockefellers" were all along calling the shots? Professor Darrell West has laid bare how that 20th century taunt has become the 21st century reality. If the old Commies could see us now, they'd be screaming "I told you so." Would even the most patriotic American deny the influence that certain billionaires hold today over those in elective office? How could they think otherwise? With "Oligarchs" astride Russia, their counterparts here flaunt their political clout with gusto. A Las Vegas casino operator flashes open his campaign treasure chest and we watch while shameless presidential candidates bow before it. The "Koch Brothers hold their quadrennial "primary" to decide which White House hopeful gets a bite at their oil and gas billions. It's a ghastly sight for those who love America." --Chris Matthews, MSNBC's "Hardball" "Are the super-wealthy different from you and me?" asks Darrell West. Different or not, they are shaping our world, sometimes for the better (when they invent new things), but often for the worse, when they undermine democracy, use government to enrich themselves, and create a culture of social separatism and uber-success. Unless you are indifferent to this new world, you should read West's book." --Branko Milanovic, author of The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality