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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.  

These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favour of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the promise that 'you can make it if you try'. And the consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has fuelled populist protest, with the triumph of Brexit and election of Donald Trump.  

Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the polarised politics of our time, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalisation and rising inequality. Sandel highlights the hubris a meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind. He offers an alternative way of thinking about success - more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility and more hospitable to a politics of the common good.

©2020 Michael J. Sandel (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Tyranny of Merit

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A must read in today’s divisive times

Professor Sandel surely but gently leads the reader through the causes of disillusionment of meritocracy. Outstanding ideas, prose and narration.

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  • vs
  • 11-11-20

A Philosopher of the the world for the world.

It takes a Philosopher to show a mirror to the world and this book does exactly that. Questioning the current, planting the seeds of change.

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  • Julio
  • 14-03-21

Great book!

Brilliant ideas to improve mankind and society. Even though it focuses on American society, the same principles apply to make other societies more humane and give their less favored members the opportunity of a happier life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-12-20

Before revolution

Great analysis of the predicament most developed societies have landed. I find my own actions hugely influenced by the meritocratic bias. I never questioned it, I was on the receiving / winning side of that reality. It is really worth reconsidering the whole meritocratic construct. But, I am afraid not much of the criticism would ever be adopted, the rich and powerful will have too much too lose.

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  • Mr R Davies
  • 03-11-20

So important for our time of tumult

If only everyone could read this book, the world would have a chance of organising itself in a fair fairer and just way. Brilliant in every way:

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  • Seretse Small
  • 10-10-20

thought provoking and inspiring

loved it! will listen again. it has challenged my notions of systems of reward and success.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-10-20

Interesting point

This is the 4th books I read following Justice What is the right thing to do?, what money can’t buy? and Public Philosophy and this book by Mr. Sandel. When we look back in the past and it’s become even more evident now that society seem to praise on the more educated and success is measure on the level of wealth and opportunities to govern the less unfortunate and low income, in which would create even more inequality and income gap, to put Meritocracy in perspectives, we all need to understand the limit of merit system and how we look at our success that is suggested in this book, but in term of practical, it would be other challenging !

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  • Stuart Robertson
  • 05-11-20

a unified theory of discourse as we know it

such a phenomenally good concept, I think the tyranny of merit beautifully explains european and American politics now. I would love to recommend it to friends but unfortunately the book is too repetitive and solutions to the problems explained are weak. I wish he had a better editor! just listen to his interview on the podcast reasons to be cheerful you'll save 10 hours

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-11-20

Thought provoking and rewarding

I’m new to Audible so I don’t know if it’s usual for the author to read but Michael Sandel’s voice is so distinctive that it’s an essential element to my overall assessment. I found his thesis struck a profound cord with me and one that society as a whole should be clamouring to hear. One needs to concentrate of course but he lays out his argument methodically and calmly by which I mean that his tone is neutral, not judgement as I at first expected, and won me round convincingly over the course of the book. His analysis makes eminent sense of many events of recent past and gave structure to my own unarticulated thoughts.

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  • K. Charman
  • 04-10-20

Towering, complete, perfect

Every academic, professional, cosmopolitan, graduate, higher than average income earner (or should we say “taker”, should read this book in front of a mirror and then ask whose fault it is that Brexit, Trump and other forms of populism are unravelling liberal democracies.

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  • Tony Fitzgerald
  • 12-09-20

Well written critique of meritocracy

Sandel's book is a lucid discussion of the 'rhetoric of rising'. it's an informed critique of meritocracy/credentialism and its role in the rise of right-wing populism.
Sandel's reading is to be commended too.

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  • Shaun Solomon
  • 21-04-21

One of the most important books ever written

Michael brilliantly discusses the divisive issues we and our future generations face. Merit has encroached on every fabric of society and contributed to the huge divide that may end terribly for us all.

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  • Flambards
  • 18-04-21

For anyone who has ever asked “how the hell did we end up here?”

This book posed as many difficult questions about the future as it answered about the past. And it answered many. It’s always good to listen to Michael speaking in a way that I would imagine is his lecture style. Not that my SAT scores would ever get me a seat. We are at a crossroads. We know that the current system is broken. What is asked in this book is whether or not we know why? And if we agree with his hypothesis, are we part of the solution or do we collude in its continued existence because we’re part of the winning group? Are the turkeys going to vote for Christmas? I found it an excellent read and have already ordered a copy of Michael Young’s book to see how the Labour Party could have so completely mis-read what he was saying. I suspect our Society lacks the humility to realise a 180 degree turn is needed. Machiavelli, wrote pithily about the problem
That this sort of change in position entails. I’m not sure we have the wisdom to embrace the change the world requires. Pity, it would be a much better place if we did.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-03-21

EXCELLENT

Thank you for this book.We needed it as a society to get our facts straight.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-03-21

Eye opening

Very sobering illustration of the mechanisms of privilege and how merit is in fact a false premise to social equality

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  • Bill Atkinson
  • 22-03-21

A Book for Our Time

If there was ever a subject that needed airing this is it. This is an eye opener which brings a real clarity to the issues we face today but then realize our now out-with our control. Whilst much time is spent on education, that subject does drive home the message which means it is easier to grasp the economic message. “It’s the economy, stupid” and we have been made to look stupid by our leaders.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-03-21

Profound and honest critique of neoliberal policy

An essential read for how to fix the general feeling of disillusionment we all have about the enforced neo liberal policies. A step by step approach to the mentality that drives people to react in such an seemingly absurd manner.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-02-21

Moralistic preaching without practical solutions

The author spends 80% of the book moralising about haves and have nots while not really supporting his premise. While he provides strong evidence that meritocracy unchecked leads to a class hierarchy in society, he doesn't provide any useful suggestions on how to fix the issue or consider the economic impact of the world being any other way than meritocratic.

Very US centric, get ready for quotes about how many times various US presidents over the past 50 years have used a problematic phrase.

He even sneaks in the term "equality of condition" which is a thinly veiled approximation of "equality of outcome".

Even if you agree with a premise, the author states his idea and then beats that dead horse for another 2 hours in each chapter without adding value beyond the first 10-20 mins. His arguments are all moral and disconnected from pragmatism.

Save yourself the time and read a summary or listen to his interview with Sam Harris.