Does power corrupt, or are corrupt people drawn to power? Are entrepreneurs who embezzle and cops who kill the result of poorly designed systems or are they just bad people? Are tyrants made or born? If you were suddenly thrust into a position of power, would you be able to resist the temptation to line your pockets or seek revenge against your enemies?
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To answer these questions, Corruptible draws on over 500 interviews with some of the world’s top leaders—from the noblest to the dirtiest—including presidents and philanthropists as well as rebels, cultists, and dictators. Some of the fascinating insights include: how facial appearance determines who we pick as leaders, why narcissists make more money, why some people don’t want power at all and others are drawn to it out of a psychopathic impulse, and why being the “beta” (second in command) may actually be the optimal place for health and well-being.
Corruptible also features a wealth of counterintuitive examples from history and social science: you’ll meet the worst bioterrorist in American history, hit the slopes with a ski instructor who once ruled Iraq, and learn why the inability of chimpanzees to play baseball is central to the development of human hierarchies.
Based on deep, unprecedented research from around the world, Corruptible will challenge your most basic assumptions about becoming a leader and what might happen to your head when you get there. It also provides a roadmap to avoiding classic temptations, suggesting a series of reforms that would facilitate better people finding a path to power—and ensuring that power purifies rather than corrupts.
Brian Klaas grew up in Minnesota, earned his DPhil at Oxford, and is now a professor of global politics at University College London. He is also a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, host of the award-winning Power Corrupts podcast, and frequent guest on national television. Klaas has conducted field research across the globe, interviewing despots, CEOs, torture victims, dissidents, cult leaders, criminals, and everyday power abusers. He has also advised major politicians and organizations including NATO, the European Union, and Amnesty International. You can find him at BrianPKlaas.com and on Twitter @brianklaas.
Mary L. Trump is the author of the international #1 bestseller, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man and New York Times bestseller The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal. She holds a Ph.D from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University, and has taught graduate courses in trauma, psychopathology, and developmental psychology.
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