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Anand Giridharadas

Editor-at-large for TIME 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, most recently, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” published by Knopf in 2018. His other 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 the India his parents left.

    Giridharadas is an editor-at-large for TIME, an on-air political analyst for MSNBC, and a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. His newsletter, The.Ink, offers current, razor sharp commentary on the latest happenings in politics and business. 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 ItalyIndiaChinaDubai, Norway, Japan, Haiti, Brazil, Columbia, Nigeria, Uruguay, and the United States. He has also written for The Times’s art, business, and travel pages, and its Book Review, Sunday Review, and magazine—and for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. In his email newsletter, The.Ink, he shares essays on politics and culture, money and power.

    Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Giridharadas was raised there, in Paris, France, and in Maryland, and 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 from that city for the International Herald Tribune and The Times for four and a half years. He was appointed a columnist in 2008. He first interned for The New York Times at age 17, writing two articles on money and politics.

    Giridharadas has appeared regularly on TV and the radio in the United States and globally, and has given talks on the main stage of TED and at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the New York Public Library, the Sydney Opera House, the United Nations, South by Southwest, the Asia Society, PopTech, the Royal Society of Arts, and Google. He has been the recipient of honors from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism at Yale, the Henry Crown Fellowship of the Aspen Institute, the 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year award, the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanism in Culture from Harvard University, and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Award. He was also the host of ‘Seat at the Table’ on VICE TV, a weekly program that discusses politics, culture, and common life.

    Giridharadas lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Priya Parker, and two children.

    Visit Anand Giridharadas’s Company Reads page to learn how he can teach your team to not only do more good, but do less harm.

  • Speaking Topics

    Winners Take All

    In this presentation, Anand Giridharadas explores how we have come to a place where historic levels of philanthropy co-exist with historic levels of inequality. He explains how those in power—“the winners” of society— work to change the world only in ways that don’t jeopardize their own standing. He argues that it is only by championing systemic solutions through the democratic process that real change can be achieved.

    2020 Foresight: Where Do We Go From Here?

    In 2020, at least five intersecting crises came together, each one fueling the other: a health crisis, an economic crisis, and racial crisis, a democratic crisis, and a climate crisis. The result is that the extreme inequalities within our society have been exposed in a stark fashion and it has freed us from any illusion that we have been living right. This moment in time can be seen as one of great danger and despair, but as Anand Giridharadas argues, it also presents a unique opportunity for systemic change and hope in the midst of darkness.

    The Next America

    If the United States of America feels fractious and explosive today, Anand Giridharadas believes that is because an old society dying and a new society is panging to be born. The birth of a new country means we have to choose what that country is going to be. How do we prepare for an America that is more diverse and more globally integrated? How do we navigate the transition of power from the traditional players to new voices? How do we go on this great journey of shifting identity together and not in factions? Anand lends his expertise to these complex and essential questions, outlining a society rooted in communities and imbued with a set of values in which humanity is the guiding principle.

    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.

  • Video

  • Praise for Anand Giridharadas

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    Anand had so many concepts that challenged us that I walked away starting a list of all the ways I could more courageously push for true systems change. Through him, CBI significantly changed how we think and talk about these issues.

    Attendee at Community Building Initiative’s annual Stakeholders Breakfast
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    We’ve received over 100 surveys from our attendees and the overwhelming feedback is that Anand was their favorite speaker and the highlight of the entire event. Anand was able to tailor his responses so beautifully to our audience and network and was so wonderful to work with.

    Social Venture Circle
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    “Anand was thought-provoking and spent a lot of time with our students answering questions and hearing about their various projects and ideas. Anand offered really interesting perspectives that challenged our students to think of the interaction between business and philanthropy in different ways, to see alternative ways to make an impact on the world outside of corporate philanthropy, but also to think critically and justify the things that they believe are good and valuable about the business world’s involvement in solving social issues.”

    Temple University Social Entrepreneurship Summit
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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
  • Books by Anand Giridharadas

  • Media About Anand Giridharadas

    America after fascism

    The Billionaire Election

    “India Calling”

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