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  • superb ... Wooldridge, the political editor of The Economist, quite brilliantly evokes the values and manners of the pluto-meritocrats at the top of society ... They would do well to read Wooldridge's erudite, thoughtful and magnificently entertaining book. They will find many uncomfortable truths in it.

    James Marriott, The Times
  • Adrian Wooldridge's extraordinary and irresistible history of meritocracy, The Aristocracy of Talent, describes the repeated efforts over the centuries to persuade peoples all over the world to accept the principle and compel society to organize itself on lines where merit alone, not bloodlines or bank balances, decides who rules and gets top dollar. ... Throughout, Wooldridge never loses faith in the principle of meritocracy as the key driver of modernity ... The Aristocracy of Talent is a serious treat from first to last. Not the least of its pleasures are the possibilities of disagreement that it provokes.

    Ferdinand Mount, Times Literary Supplement
  • This is a blistering and provocative defence of meritocracy - the single word almost all democratic politicians swear by, but never debate. Wooldridge, the Economist's political editor, provides an erudite survey of many cultures over several centuries to remind us how meritocracy's core idea - that your place in society should be a reflect of talent and effort, not determined by birth - is both revolutionary and recent. He sees meritocracy as an organising ideal rather than something that has been satisfactorily achieved, and rails against the ability of the privileged to purchase educational advantage for their children. He deplores too, outbursts of arrogance from meritocracy's winners.

    Books of the Year, New Statesman
  • The Aristocracy of Talent is finely constructed: fluent insights include the importance of Plato's distrust of democracy, on the grounds that it tended to lead to tyranny, and his insistence on the need for a leadership of experts.

    John Lloyd, Financial Times
  • In The Aristocracy of Talent, the Economist writer Adrian Wooldridge defends the meritocratic ideal. The book offers a sweeping account of the history of meritocracy, from the elaborate exams required to join the Chinese civil service to the problems with our dysfunctional present version of meritocracy, which Wooldridge says might be better called "pluto-meritocracy". Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand one of the important problems facing rich nations.

    James Marriott, The Times Book of the Year
  • This masterly book offers a robust defence of meritocracy.

    Lord Willetts, Economist
  • hugely stimulating ... a spirited defence ... of meritocracy itself, made with cogent arguments ... a valuable, thought-provoking book

    Noel Malcolm, Daily Telegraph
  • a timely book that is a reminder that meritocracy, for all its flaws, may well be, like the democracy it has sometimes served, better than the alternatives ... told with a wealth of erudition in brisk and readable prose

    Darrin M McMahon, Literary Review
  • There are few terms whose origins are more misunderstood than "meritocracy". So Adrian Wooldridge has performed a public service with his latest book, The Aristocracy of Talent.

    Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Adrian Wooldridge sees meritocracy as a revolutionary idea worth improving, not abandoning. He ranges across two and a half thousand years of history, surveying many societies and cultures, to remind us that until relatively recently the talented were almost always a matter of no interest to the rulers - not only unrewarded but undiscovered ... [a] rich stew of a book. Alongside the philosophers are innumerable politicians, theologians, scientists, academics, authors and campaigners. He has dug up a priceless array of quotes from all perspectives on how to define the best people, how to seek them out, how to educate them, how to test them, how to give them power, even how they should behave.

    Mark Damazer, New Statesman

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