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The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be Hardcover – March 5, 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 198 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Naím, scholar and columnist, explains that “power is what we exercise over others that leads them to behave in ways they would not otherwise have behaved.” He builds his case for the decay of power claiming that power no longer buys as much; it is easier to get, harder to use, and easier to lose. Presidents, executives in financial services and oil companies, international religious leaders, and politicians continue to wield great power, but less so than their predecessors; today’s leaders have more challenges, competitors, and constraints in the form of citizen activism, global markets, and the ever-present media. The decay of power has made space globally for new ventures, companies, voices, and more opportunities, but it also holds great potential for instability. Naím concludes that now we are more vulnerable to bad ideas and bad leaders, and strongly recommends a conversation not on the obsession with “who/what is Number One” but “what is going on inside those nations, political movements, corporations, and religions.” A timely and timeless book. --Mary Whaley


“Who is in charge? This book says nobody. The monopolies of coercion that characterised states, the potency of advanced militaries, the media organisations that controlled information, and the religious institutions that defined orthodoxy are all losing control. Readers may disagree; they will be provoked.”
Financial Times, Best of the Year

“It’s not just that power shifts from one country to another, from one political party to another, from one business model to another, Naim argues; it’s this: “Power is decaying.”
— Gordon M. Goldstein, Washington Post, Notable Non-Fiction Book of the Year

“A remarkable new book by the remarkable Moises Naim, the former editor of Foreign Policy. It was recommended to me by former president Bill Clinton during a brief conversation on the situation in Egypt.”
—Richard Cohen, Washington Post

"In his new book called The End of Power, Moises Naim goes so far as to say that power is actually decaying. I actually find the argument rather persuasive."
—General Martin Dempsey-Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

"I particularly enjoyed The End of Power by Moisés Naim.... It is particularly relevant for big institutions like GE."
—Jeff Immelt, CEO, GE

“[An] altogether mind-blowing and happily convincing treatise about how 'power is becoming more feeble, transient, and constrained.'"
—Nick Gillespie, Barron's

“Moisés Naím’s The End of Power offers a cautionary tale to would-be Lincolns in the modern era. Naím is a courageous writer who seeks to dissect big subjects in new ways. At a time when critics of overreaching governments, big banks, media moguls and concentrated wealth decry the power of the '1%,' Mr. Naím argues that leaders of all types—political, corporate, military, religious, union—face bigger, more complex problems with weaker hands than in the past.”
—Wall Street Journal

“Analytically sophisticated…[a] highly original, inter-disciplinary meditation on the degeneration of international power… The End of Power makes a truly important contribution, persuasively portraying a compelling dynamic of change cutting across multiple game-boards of the global power matrix.”
—Washington Post

“This fascinating book...should provoke a debate about how to govern the world when more and more people are in charge.”
—Foreign Affairs

“Naím produces a fascinating account of the way states, corporations and traditional interest groups are finding it harder to defend their redoubts… (He) makes his case with eloquence.”
—Financial Times

“A timely and timeless book.”

“Having served as editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy and the executive director of the World Bank, Naím knows better than most what power on a global scale looks like…. [A] timely, insightful, and eloquent message.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Foreign Policy editor-in-chief Naím argues that global institutions of power are losing their ability to command respect. Whether considering institutions of government, military, religion or business, the author believes their power to be in the process of decaying…. A data-packed, intriguing analysis.”
Kirkus Reviews

The End of Power will change the way you read the news, the way you think about politics, and the way you look at the world.”
—William Jefferson Clinton

“In my own experience as president of Brazil I observed first hand many of the trends that Naím identifies in this book, but he describes them in a way that is as original as it is delightful to read. All those who have power—or want it—should read this book.”
—Fernando Henrique Cardoso

“Moisés Naím’s extraordinary new book will be of great interest to all those in leadership positions—business executives, politicians, military officers, social activists and even religious leaders. Readers will gain a new understanding of why power has become easier to acquire and harder to exercise. The End of Power will spark intense and important debate worldwide.”
—George Soros

“After you read The End of Power you will see the world through different eyes. Moisés Naím provides a compelling and original perspective on the surprising new ways power is acquired, used, and lost—and how these changes affect our daily lives.” —Arianna Huffington

“Moisés Naím is one of the most trenchant observers of the global scene. In The End of Power, he offers a fascinating new perspective on why the powerful face more challenges than ever. Probing into the shifting nature of power across a broad range of human endeavors, from business to politics to the military, Naím makes eye-opening connections between phenomena not usually linked, and forces us to re-think both how our world has changed and how we need to respond.”
—Francis Fukuyama

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465031560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465031566
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The End of Power starts like dynamite.

Moises Naim, an extremely well-respected and well-informed author (he thanks everybody who's anybody in the acknowledgments except perhaps for David Beckham) is truly on fire to begin with. He starts the book by telling you what power is. He defines it as the ability to make others do what you want them to do. It's not about the size of your army or your nuclear stockpile or your advertising budget. It's the ability to get your way.

Next, he sets up a matrix, Mc Kinsey style. Two types of power, hard and soft. And each breaks down in two. So hard power breaks down to coercion and bribery. Soft power breaks down to code and persuasion. So "if you don't eat your broccoli you don't get to play with Lego" as well as "if you don't eat your broccoli you'll have a spanking" are both coercion. On the other hand "if you eat your broccoli you can then have ice cream" is bribery. That's hard power, because I have ways to make you change your mind. On the other hand if the pope says you should practice abstinence, that's soft power, he can't do much to keep you chaste. He sets a moral code and that's that. Similarly, if Patek Philippe buy the back cover of the Economist every week and your wife asks you for a diamond-crusted watch (or you decide to buy a little something for the next generation) that's persuasion, but there's nothing in it for you directly.

And of course power is seldom on one vector only. The pope, for example, may be going beyond code. If you don't follow his rules, it may later cost you salvation. And if you do, you might go to heaven. So you could argue it's 70% code, 15% coercion and 15% bribery. You get the idea.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whatever our political ideologies, most of us are aware that we've entered one of those periods of accelerated change that mark the transition from one historical era to another. In the last dozen years we've had the War on International Terror, the Great Recession, public and private sector financial collapses, and a change in politics that has shifted the country from ultra-laissez faire economic conservatism toward a slightly left-of-center regime of higher taxes, more regulation, and more federally-supervised healthcare.

These changes may be viewed through many economic and political prisms. This book views it through what is purported to be a change in the power structures that govern politics, business, the military, and even religion. As author Moises Naim posits: "Power is decaying. To put it simply, power no longer buys as much as it did in the past."

My first thought is that this is deja vu back to the late 60's/mid 70's when a plethora of books like MEGATRENDS and FUTURE SHOCK predicted that "The Establishment" would soon be overthrown by an explosion of knowledge, communication, and rising social consciousness among the people, especially the young. The Establishment was alleged to be a cabal of large corporate and academic interests allied with big government for the purpose of suppressing the desires of the "little people" to have a greater share of economic and political influence.

Something along these lines did happen on a limited scale. Grass roots environmentalists did combine to thwart powerful corporate interests and their political allies. Young people, women, and minorities did take over the Democratic Party in 1972 and oust its old guard.
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Format: Hardcover
I always read with great skepticism the endorsements that famous people give to their friends' books. I did not believe a word of what Clinton, Soros, or Arianna Huffington wrote on the back cover of Naim's book. Still I was intrigued because I had read Naim's previous book Illicit and liked it a lot. So I bought and read The End of Power. And to my surprise, I found that in this case the celebrities are right. This book does change the way one looks at the world. Power is a big subject that can get very complicated and hard to read. Not here. Naim does a masterful job in observations, surprising data, and great examples. It is an engaging read that nicely persuaded me he is onto something big and that the trends he discusses are right. Some of the parts of the book are a bit complicated but those can be skipped and most of the book is hard to put down. I especially liked the way he explained why power is now easy to get, harder to use, and easier to lose. He argues that the barriers that protect the powerful from the attacks of challengers have become easier to surmount. Why? Becuase Naim explains that there are three massive forces--the More (abundance), Mobility, and Mentality revolutions--that help contestants for power overwhelm, circumvent, and undermine the barricades that protect the powerful. The book provides ample evidence of how this is happening with mighty armies, entrenched dictators, big companies, or even Chess grandmasters or the Vatican. Anyone who has power or wants it (or is under the domination of a powerful individual or organization) should read this book. You will be very entertained.
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