Paul Vallely

Mar 8, 2021

Philanthropy

From Aristotle to Zuckerberg

Bloomsbury Continuum 2020

In this magnum opus, Paul Vallely guides the reader on a journey through the history and meaning of giving in religion and society.

Vivid with anecdote and scholarly insight, this magisterial survey – from the ancient Greeks to today's high-tech geeks – provides an original take on the history of philanthropy. It shows how giving has, variously, been a matter of honor, altruism, religious injunction, political control, moral activism, enlightened self-interest, public good, personal fulfillment and plutocratic manipulation.

Its narrative moves from the Greek man of honor and Roman patron, via the Jewish prophet and Christian scholastic – through Puritan proto-capitalist, Enlightenment activist and Victorian moralist – to the robber-baron philanthropist, the welfare socialist, the celebrity activist and today's wealthy mega-giver. In the process it discovers that philanthropy lost an essential element as it entered the modern era. The book then embarks on a journey to determine where today's philanthropists come closest to recovering that missing dimension. 

Philanthropy: From Aristotle to Zuckerberg (Bloomsbury, 2020) explores the successes and failures of philanthrocapitalism, examines its claims and contradictions, and asks tough questions of top philanthropists and leading thinkers – among them Richard Branson, Eliza Manningham-Buller, Jonathan Ruffer, David Sainsbury, John Studzinski, Bob Geldof, Naser Haghamed, Lenny Henry, Jonathan Sacks, Rowan Williams, Ngaire Woods, and the presidents of the Rockefeller and Soros foundations, Rajiv Shah and Patrick Gaspard. In extended conversations they explore the relationship between philanthropy and family, faith, society, art, politics, and the creation and distribution of wealth.

Highly engaging and meticulously researched, Paul Vallely's authoritative account of philanthropy then and now critiques the excessive utilitarianism of much modern philanthrocapitalism and points to how philanthropy can rediscover its soul.

For 25% off Philanthropy, use the discount code VANLEER25 at www.bloomsbury.com/philanthropy. Offer ends 31st March 2021.

Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com.

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Renee Garfinkel

Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com.

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