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Anand Giridharadas

Journalist and author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

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  • About Anand Giridharadas

    Anand Giridharadas is the author of the best-selling book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, an incisive and challenging account of the hypocrisies that exist in modern philanthropy. His previous books are The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, about a Muslim immigrant’s campaign to spare from Death Row the white supremacist who tried to kill him (optioned for movie adaption by Annapurna Pictures); and India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking, about returning to and understanding the India his parents left.

    Giridharadas is an accomplished journalist in many mediums, working as an on-air political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He is a former columnist and correspondent for The New York Times, having written, most recently, the biweekly “Letter from America.” His datelines have included Italy, India, China, Dubai, Norway, Japan, Haiti, Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, Uruguay, and the United States. He has also written for The New York Times‘s arts, business, and travel pages, Book Review, Sunday Review, and magazine, in addition to The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

    Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Giridharadas had an international upbringing spanning Ohio, Paris, and Maryland, and was educated at the University of Michigan, Oxford, and Harvard. He worked briefly as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in Mumbai before becoming a journalist in 2005, reporting for the International Herald Tribune and The Times for four and a half years and beginning his work as a columnist in 2008.

    He appears regularly on TV and radio in the United States and globally, including on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, “Morning Joe,” and “The Daily Show.” An accomplished and compelling speaker, he has given talks on the main stage of TED and at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, the Aspen Institute, Summit at Sea, the Sydney Opera House, the United Nations, the Asia Society, PopTech and Google. He has received honors from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism at Yale, and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Award. He is a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute.

    Anand lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and children.

  • Speaking Topics

    Winners Take All: Myths and Realities of How to Change the World

    In this talk, drawn from his forthcoming book Winners Take All, which itself began at the storied Aspen Institute, Anand Giridharadas questions why the philanthropic efforts of the ultra-wealthy create so few tangible results. While speaking truth to power, Giridharadas doesn’t just expose the fractures in well-intentioned charitable efforts, but offers a vision to fix them based on truly democratic principles that can create meaningful change. This speech can be customized for university audiences, guiding young people hungry to make a difference towards the most effective ways to change the world.

    A Tale of Two Americas

    Drawing from the experience of writing The True American, Anand Giridharadas brings audiences to the front lines of a deep-seated political divide through the story of a Muslim immigrant forgiving and defending a white supremacist who shot him, navigating the Texas legal system to spare his attacker the death penalty. Both heartbreaking and timely, Giridharadas shows how confronting deep divisions in American society is the way to understand the future of American identity in a country built on dreams and fears alike.

    The Next America

    How do we prepare for an America that is more diverse and more globally integrated, especially as a global future means a change in the availability of opportunities for most Americans? Anand Giridharadas lends his expertise to this complex and essential question, outlining a global society rooted in communities and guided by expansionary policies instead of narrow ones.

    The Role of the Journalist in a Democracy

    The role of journalists has changed dramatically in the age of social media, and continues to shift in a news landscape dominated by accusations of bias. Anand Giridharadas assesses the role and current state of journalism in a democratic society through incredible anecdotes from his time as an acclaimed reporter and insights about the craft of journalism.

    Facilitating the Difficult Conversations

    Through his experience speaking to diverse audiences across the country, Anand Giridharadas has noticed that individuals everywhere—no matter their position in life or political affiliation—feel an urgent need to discuss the direction of their country and give voice to their pain, fears, and dreams. Drawing from his work as a political analyst, Giridharadas skillfully facilitates interactive conversations for communities, campuses, and companies to come together to discuss these difficult problems facing society.

    India Calling

    In a speech that spans the political and the personal, Anand Giridharadas recounts his experience seeking the India his parents left while writing India Calling. Informed by a journalist's eye, a rich family history, and a deep international understanding, Giridharadas brings a complicated nation to life.

  • Video

  • Praise for Anand Giridharadas

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    Anand and Priya were great! Everyone loved them and raved over their talk.

    Public Library Association
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    Working with Anand Giridharadas has been one of our best Common Read experiences by far. Mr. Giridharadas displayed an impressive ability to connect with students on issues of diversity and social justice.  In public talks and individual interactions, Mr. Giridharadas inspired everyone to be more actively engaged in their communities on and off campus. His public talks were professional and engrossing, and in his more informal chats Mr. Giridharadas eschewed contrived phrases or stock stories from the book or his TED Talk, often working extemporaneously to spark fresh and insightful conversation. Students recognized him everywhere and repeatedly stopped to speak with him. With each interaction he was warm and eager to engage. We would highly recommend him as an exceptional author-in-residence who exceeded all of our expectations.

    UMass Amherst
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    A powerful, life-awakening and important conversation. So grateful for Anand’s message of compassion, empathy, understanding and forgiveness.

    Academi of Life
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    It was a truly inspiring lecture and I was delighted to see the audience of students, alumni, community members, faculty, and staff all gathered.  Anand was a fantastic choice, and very timely for the conversations of today.

    Stony Brook University
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    Anand knocked it out of the park. We’ve heard so much positive feedback. It couldn’t have gone better.

    TCG: Theatre Communications Group
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    I was impressed by this @TEDTalks back in March. @AnandWrites captures the dreams and fears of American immigrants.

    Bill Gates (Twitter @BillGates)
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    An extraordinarily powerful parable on so many levels. And presented with amazing eloquence. I looked around and saw many eyes glistening. It’s a talk you wish every American leader, CEO and opinion influencer would see. Actually, it’s a talk you wish everyone would see.

    Chris Anderson, TED
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    I thought Anand put it very powerfully. Real change comes though persuasion and openness to others.

    President Barack Obama

    Praise for India Calling

    Rarely has an author deciphered the Indian enigma the way Anand Giridharadas does in India Calling. By lucidly portraying the country's real locomotive—its vast and populous youth—he provides the most timely and elegant guide to perhaps the most important next generation in the world.

    Parag Khanna, author of The Second World and How to Run the World

    A beautifully written, intelligent look at the cultural history and changes of India . . . The book [is] worth reading because of [Giridharadas's] skill as a writer . . . Giridharadas publishes sentences and paragraphs that are exquisitely worded, to the point of becoming downright memorable, and certainly quotable.

    Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

    [A] readable, intriguing book . . . [Giridharadas is] a marvelous journalist—intrepid, easy to like, curious . . . India Calling connects us to a new India, and an engaging new voice.

    The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

    [A] smart, evocative and sharply observed memoir . . . Giridharadas's narrative gusto makes the familiar fresh.

    The Wall Street Journal

    Praise for The True American

    An unforgettable story about two men caught in the jaws of history. In this compassionate, tenacious, and deeply intelligent book, Giridharadas casts brilliant new illumination on what we mean by ‘American.

    Teju Cole, author of Open City

    Simply impossible to put down. Just when we thought that we had read everything we could possibly absorb about 9/11, The True American finds a new and compelling perspective, one that explores two sharply opposed dimensions of the American experience in a style that neither celebrates nor condemns. We readers become the jury, weighing what it means to be a true American today.

    Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation

    Exhilarating and deeply affecting, Giridharadas’s book is not only a captivating narrative; it reminds us of the immigrant’s journey at the heart of the American story and how, in the wake of violent tragedy, one new to our country can help us to see through to the best in ourselves, even when the law requires far less.

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

    An enthralling real-life tale of murder and forgiveness.

    Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

    Moving and indelible… manifestly inspirational… a finely textured portrait of lower-class despair.

    Laura Miller, Salon

    A riveting tale, dense with detail, from Giridharadas’ unflinching descriptions of the struggling neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Dallas, to Stroman’s troubled and brutal childhood, to the ebullient optimism of these new Americans determined to create better lives.

    Michael E. Young, Dallas Morning News

    Gives you new eyes on your nation, makes you wonder about both the recent South Asian immigrant behind the counter at the food mart and the tattooed white man behind you in line. It reminds you that there are some Americas where mercy flows freely, and other Americas where it has turned to ice.

    Eboo Patel, Washington Post

    The suspense in this book runs deeper than whether Stroman will live or die. Mr. Giridharadas is most interested in examining the viability of the American dream… an enterprising and clear-eyed reporter.

    Stephen Harrington, Wall Street Journal

    Praise for Winners Take All

    Important . . . [An] empathic tone gives the book its persuasive power to touch the hearts of even those readers, like myself, who are the targets of its criticism.

    Mark Kramer, Stanford Social Innovation Review

    Entertaining and gripping . . . For those at the helm, the philanthropic plutocrats and aspiring “change agents” who believe they are helping but are actually making things worse, it’s time for a reckoning with their role in this spiraling dilemma. I suggest they might want to read a copy of this book while in the Hamptons this summer.

    Joseph E. Stiglitz, The New York Times Book Review

    In this provocative and passionate look at philanthropy, capitalism, and inequality, Giridharadas (The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas) criticizes market-based solutions to inequality devised by rich American do-gooders as ultimately counterproductive and self-serving. Giridharadas insists that “the idea that after-the-fact benevolence justifies anything-goes capitalism” is no excuse for “avoiding the necessity of a more just and equitable system and a fairer distribution of power.” He turns a gimlet eye on philanthropists who make the money they donate by underpaying employees; luxurious philanthropy getaways that focus more on making attendees feel good about themselves than on creating profound change; and tech companies such as Uber, which promises to empower the poor with earning opportunities, but has been accused of exploiting its workers. Giridharadas calls out billionaire venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who opines that “sharing is caring” but refers to labor unions as “cartels,” and profiles Darren Walker, who came from modest beginnings to end up president of the Ford Foundation, where his entreaties to philanthropists to acknowledge structural inequality fall mostly on deaf ears. In the end, Giridharadas believes only democratic solutions can address problems of inequality. This damning portrait of contemporary American philanthropy is a must-read for anyone interested in “changing the world.” (Aug.)

    Publishers Weekly

    A provocative critique of the kind of modern, feel-good giving that addresses symptoms and not causes.

    Kirkus Reviews

    In this trenchant and timely book, Anand Giridharadas shows how the winners of global capitalism seek to help the losers, but without disturbing the market-friendly arrangements that keep the winners on top. He gives us an incisive critique of corporate-sponsored charities that promote frictionless ‘win-win’ solutions to the world’s problems but disdain the hard, contentious work of democratic politics. An indispensable guide for those perplexed by the rising public anger toward ‘change-making’ elites.

    Michael J. Sandel, author of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

    Winners Take All boldly exposes one of the great if little-reported scandals of the age of globalization: the domestication of the life of the mind by political and financial power and the substitution of ‘thought leaders’ for critical thinkers. It not only reorients us as we lurch out of a long ideological intoxication; it also embodies the values—intellectual autonomy and dissent—that we need to build a just society.

    Pankaj Mishra, author of The Age of Anger

    A brilliant, rising voice of our era takes us on a journey among the global elite in his search for understanding of our tragic disconnect. Thought-provoking, expansive, and timely.

    Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns

    Winners Take All is the book I have been waiting for—the most important intervention yet regarding elite-driven solutions, a vitally important problem to expose. The book courageously answers so many of the critical questions about how, despite much good will and many good people, we struggle to achieve progress in twenty-first-century America. If you want to be part of the solution, you should read this book.

    Ai-jen Poo, director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

    A trenchant, humane, and often revelatory investigation by one of the wisest nonfiction writers going.

    Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers

    An insightful and refreshing perspective on some of the most vexing issues this nation confronts. This is an important book from a gifted writer whose honest exploration of complex problems provides urgently needed clarity in an increasingly confusing era.

    Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy
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