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  • John Murray
  • John Murray

Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us

Brian Klaas

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Business ethics & social responsibility

A provocative and revelatory journey into what power is, who gets it, and what happens when they have it, based on over 500 interviews with those who - for a while at least - have had the upper hand.

'Illuminating . . . reveals why some people and systems are more likely to be corrupted by power than others' - Adam Grant

'Passionate, insightful, and occasionally jaw-dropping . . . Corruptible sets out the story of the intoxicating lure of power-and how it has shaped the modern world' - Peter Frankopan

'A brilliant exploration' - Dan Snow

'Klaas is the rarest of finds: a political scientist who can also tell great stories. He mixes memorable anecdotes with stern analysis to tackle one of the biggest questions of all: do we have to be ruled by bad people?' - Peter Pomerantsev

Does power corrupt, or are corrupt people drawn to power? Are entrepreneurs who embezzle and cops who kill the outgrowths of bad systems or are they just bad people? Are tyrants made or born? If you were thrust into a position of power, would new temptations to line your pockets or torture your enemies gnaw away at you until you gave in?

To answer these questions, Corruptible draws on over 500 interviews with some of the world's noblest and dirtiest leaders, from presidents and philanthropists to rebels, cultists, and dictators. It also makes use of a wealth of counter-intuitive examples from history and social science: You'll meet the worst bioterrorist in American history, hit the slopes with a ski instructor who once ruled Iraq, have breakfast with the yogurt kingpin of Madagascar, learn what bees and wasps can teach us about corruption, find out why our Stone Age brains cause us to choose bad leaders, and learn why the inability of chimpanzees to play baseball is central to the development of human hierarchies.

Corruptible will make you challenge basic assumptions about how you can rise to become a leader and what might happen to your head when you get there. It also provides a roadmap to avoiding classic temptations, suggesting a series of reforms that would ensure that better people get into power, while ensuring that power purifies rather than corrupts.

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