From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Using her expertise in Eastern European communist governments, author and public policy professor Wedel (Collision and Collusion) has pulled together a shocking expose of those dismantling U.S. democracy from the inside. Labeling the new breed of U.S. political operators "flexions," she finds individual roles as lobbyists, government insiders or elected officials converging into a single network "snaking through official and private organizations, creating a loop that is closed to democratic processes." Wedel shows how a core group of flexions (neo-conservative cold-warrior Richard Perle, retired four-star army general Barry R. McCaffrey, Obama financial advisor Larry Summers, etc.) have risen to power on an unprecedented confluence of four transformational 20th and 21st century developments: government outsourcing and deregulation, the end of the Cold War, the growth of information technologies, and "the embrace of 'truthiness.'" By wearing several hats simultaneously (think tanker, retired military or government official, corporate representative, "objective" expert), Wedel shows how a flexion can gain extraordinary insider knowledge and influence in order to custom-tailor a version of the "truth" benefitting the highest bidder. In this way, they not only "co-opt public policy agendas" but "craft policy with their benefactors' purposes in mind." This fascinating, authoritative wake-up call should satisfy any American who wants a handle on the republic's most successful agents of corruption.
Publishers Weekly, starred review, December 7, 2009
"This fascinating, authoritative wake-up call should satisfy any American who wants a handle on the republic’s most successful agents of corruption."
Financial Times, January 3, 2010
"A clarion call against some insidious threats to a healthy democracy."
Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, January 6, 2010
"…a gripping, disquieting book that exposes and explains why it's been so hard to bring about any real change in our country. "
BuzzFlash, November 25, 2009
" What makes Wedel's book so valuable is that she doesn't indulge in conspiracy theories that can't be proven; she provides the facts and describes how this informal group of elitists is fluid in moving among the powerful institutions that control public policy, including government."
James K. Galbraith, Author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too
"Of huge value. With an eye that sweeps from Poland and Russia to Cambridge and Washington, Janine Wedel has reinvented the study of public administration for an era of blurred roles and secret networks. Shadow Elite is a must-read for all who care about the future of government—even the possibility of decent government—in the age of flexians and truthiness."
Peter Bergen, Author ofHoly War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know
"Janine Wedel has written a thought-provoking and interesting book that explores the rise of powerful, informal networks that often drive what governments actually do. Her account of the 1990s "reformers" in Russia and their allies in the United States, as well as her analysis of the interlocking relationships and effects on history of the American neoconservatives are especially persuasive.”
Charles Lewis, Bestselling author and founder of the Center for Public Integrity
"Shadow Elite is a powerful, searing work about how, over time, public and private have become blurred—three out of four people doing the work of the federal government today are actually private contractors. Self-dealing and corruption have become endemic, with those wielding political influence and getting rich at our expense becoming less and less accountable. With this book, Janine Wedel has provided a magnificent public service."
Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics, Columbia University
" We think of networks and flexibility as good and desirable, but Wedel shows their dark side. In a study as fascinating as it is disturbing, she delves into political actors and groupings where influence is not linked to accountability. This is a path-breaking exploration of a part of our world that we really need to understand.”