The world's banker : a story of failed states, financial crises, and the wealth and poverty of nations /
Sebastian Mallaby.
New York : The Penguin Press, 2004.
462 p.
More Details
New York : The Penguin Press, 2004.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Sebastian Mallaby has been a Washington Post columnist since 1999. From 1986 to 1999, he was on the staff of The Economist, serving in Zimbabwe, London, and Japan, as well as serving as the magazine's Washington bureau chief. He spent 2003 as a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and has written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among others. He was born in England and educated at Oxford, and now lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and children
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-10-18:
As portrayed by Washington Post columnist Mallaby, the charming, powerful, Australian-born millionaire James Wolfensohn works to transform the World Bank, of which he is president, from a Cold War dinosaur obsessed with regulations and procedures to an organization that is leanly and meanly focused on getting underdeveloped countries onto the economic grid on their own terms. Without a doubt, Wolfensohn makes great copy: he competed in the Olympics, refinanced Chrysler in 1980 and chaired a variety of top-flight cultural institutions. Mallaby (After Apartheid) efficiently relays anecdotes from each of these periods to reveal Wolfensohn's psychological, professional and intellectual complexion. The brilliant and deliberative leader who emerges has the "10-million-volt passion" of wanting the presidency of the World Bank, and where the book really shines is in Mallaby's ability to integrate the political, social and interpersonal narratives that lead to Wolfensohn's ascension to it in 1995. Mallaby presents Wolfensohn as forcefully advocating self-determination for poor countries (not unlike "feisty" NGO "tormentors" who oppose the Bank's version of globalization), but finds that Wolfensohn has been "obliged to reckon" with the U.S.'s varying agendas "and generally with the shifting appetites of his rich political masters." That's a characterization with which not everyone will agree, but Mallaby forges it with skill, opening his subject to further scrutiny by all sides. Agent, the Wylie Agency. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2005-04-01:
Being president of the World Bank is no easy job. The Bank's mandate, set out in 1944, has evolved in numerous ways. It has been criticized for insularity, insensitivity, hubris, and labyrinthine internal politics. Its financings have run into environmental and human rights objections. Especially in crisis periods, the distinction between the Bank and the IMF has become blurred. And from time to time its very mission has been called into question. This book examines how the Bank's current president, James Wolfensohn, has attempted to lead the Bank with a force and style not previously seen in the history of the institution. When the line is drawn under the Wolfensohn era, as it soon will be, it is likely to be regarded as one of the most controversial, creative, and productive in the Bank's history. Written by a financial reporter, this book is superbly crafted, nicely paced, and well researched, although sometimes a bit breathless. Mallaby effectively weaves together a mosaic of Wolfensohn's unique background and personality, the substantive challenges faced by the institution he heads, and the daunting task of producing a great circus out of lots of talented but often difficult characters in a massive multinational bureaucracy reporting to sometimes obstreperous masters. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All collections. I. Walter New York University
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Los Angeles Times, September 2004
San Francisco Chronicle, September 2004
Booklist, October 2004
Publishers Weekly, October 2004
Washington Post, October 2004
New York Times Book Review, December 2004
Choice, April 2005
New York Times Book Review, June 2006
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Main Description
Unstoppable force, meet immovable object. Scene: the World Bank, a mighty development kingdom of many fiefs, its ten thousand employees operating in some one hundred countries responsible for tens of billions of dollars in aid to the world's poorest nations. Enter: James Wolfensohn, the smooth global deal maker and power broker of gargantuan appetites who has furiously worked his many connections to become the World Bank's president. Over the course of his dazzling career, Wolfensohn seduced everything in his way-surely the development gurus of the bank would be no different? Even if this wasn't much the crowd for private jets and homes in Jackson Hole, for friendship with European royalty and Harrison Ford, for fencing at the Olympics and playing the cello in Carnegie Hall with Yo-Yo Ma, surely they would see what a noble sacrifice James Wolfensohn had made in walking away from his multimillion-dollar income? Not exactly. In 1995, Wolfensohn struck the World Bank like a whirlwind, determined to reinvent the institution founded by Franklin Roosevelt and his World War II allies. Never has the World Bank's work been more important, more in the public eye, or more controversial than in the past nine years when challenges from global financial crises to AIDS to the emergence of terrorist sanctuaries in failed states have threatened our prosperity. In Sebastian Mallaby's masterful hands, the story of Wolfenson and his World Bank is a marvelous tour through the messy reality of global development. What John Gutfreund and Salomon Brothers were to the 1980s and John Meriwether and Long Term-Capital Management were to the 1990s, James Wolfensohn and the World Bank are to our time: the emblematic story through which a gifted author has channeled the spirit of the age.
Unpaid Annotation
Mallby pens this penetrating portrait of James Wolfensohn, the smooth global deal maker and power broker who has furiously worked his many connections to become the World Bank's president.
Table of Contents
Preface: The Prisoner of Lilliputp. 1
A Tale of Two Ambitionsp. 11
"World Bank Murderer"p. 41
The Renaissance Presidentp. 65
A Twister in Africap. 84
Mission Sarajevop. 116
Narcissus and the Octopusp. 145
The Cancer of Corruptionp. 174
Uganda's Myth and Miraclep. 207
A Framework for Developmentp. 232
From Seattle to Tibetp. 261
Waking Up to Terrorp. 286
A Plague upon Developmentp. 313
Back to the Futurep. 336
A Lion at Carnegiep. 374
Acknowledgmentsp. 395
Notesp. 399
Indexp. 447
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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