The Oligarch

© SpringerRewriting Machiavelli’s The Prince for Our Time
James Sherry
12 October 2017
£19.50 | $34.99 | Softcover | 978-3-319-62168-5


“All states and all companies that have ever ruled functioned as oligarchies. While there are multiple forms of governance, all operate through control by a few.”

James Sherry’s The Oligarch is a modern sequel to Machiavelli’s classic, The Prince, which shows how little leadership roles and problems have changed in the last 500 years. By using a literary strategy to present the mechanisms of U.S. and world politics, the book offers a compelling view of Trump’s America and the direction of global politics and economics.

The Oligarch maps the roads to power. Over its 26 chapters, echoing the form of The Prince, it exposes the way authority is wielded throughout the world by groups who govern both nations and corporations. Examples include people and events straight from the headlines, including Trump, Clinton, Merkel, Thatcher, Xi, and Putin, along with corporate leaders from business and media. The Oligarch shows how the networks of power actually operate, disentangling the binaries sensationalized in the news.

If Machiavelli focused on power concentrated in republics and principalities, The Oligarch shows how corporations and states exercise power similarly. Sherry argues that while the form of democracy usually improves the well-being of the people, too little consideration has been given to how different forms of governance operate and who benefits. Rather than discussing only the forms of government, The Oligarch addresses the operations of both states and corporations as a single set of common processes.

Sherry links politics, ecology and literature in order to raise awareness of alternatives to the current overreach by the corporate classes. The Oligarch shows how groups in power conduct themselves, working in concert for their joint interest, and how their behavior affects workers and citizens everywhere.


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“Admirers of Machiavelli’s ideas and style will enjoy this slim and provocative book which addresses a topic dear to the Florentine secretary: the role of elites in society and politics. James Sherry adds a new twist by taking account of the work of twentieth century ‘Machiavellians’ such as Gaetano Mosca, early James Burnham, as well as the networks described by ecologists. The result is a smart and ironic view of the contemporary networks of oligarchs, in business as well as in politics and society. Readers interested in such different topics as populism, corporate business, high-level politics and the inevitable Donald Trump will find food for thought—accompanied by Machiavellian wit.”
—Giovanni Giorgini, Professor of Political Theory, University of Bologna and Princeton University

“500 years after Machiavelli, James Sherry offers us a modern (and wide-ranging) treatise on the oligarchs who now rule our world and how they gain and maintain power. One wonders if the pejorative ‘Sherryan’ will be hurled at the power plays of future oligarchs.” 
—Jeff Cohen, Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College




About the author
James Sherry is the author of 12 books of criticism and poetry, most recently Oops! Environmental Poetics (2013) and Entangled Bank (2016). He is the editor of Roof Books, a literary press (roofbooks.com) in New York City, USA.

For more information or to get in touch with the author please contact:
Rebecca Krahenbuhl – Communications Manager, Palgrave Macmillan
rebecca.krahenbuhl@palgrave.com, +44 020 7014 6634