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The Aristocracy of Talent Reviews

The Aristocracy of Talent by Adrian Wooldridge

The Aristocracy of Talent

How Meritocracy Made the Modern World

Adrian Wooldridge

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Allen Lane
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 3 Jun 2021
ISBN: 9780241391495

Adrian Wooldridge traces the history of meritocracy forged by the politicians and officials who introduced the revolutionary principle of open competition, the psychologists who devised methods for measuring natural mental abilities and the educationalists who built ladders of educational opportunity. He looks outside western cultures and shows what transformative effects it has had everywhere it has been adopted, especially once women were brought into the meritocractic system. Wooldridge also shows how meritocracy has now become corrupted and argues that the recent stalling of social mobility is the result of failure to complete the meritocratic revolution. Rather than abandoning meritocracy, he says, we should call for its renewal.

5 stars out of 5
James Marriott
18 May 2021

"(an) erudite, thoughtful and magnificently entertaining book"

This all-pervading quality of meritocracy is why it’s so disturbing to learn in Adrian Wooldridge’s superb new history of the subject, The Aristocracy of Talent, that we don’t really live in one at all. Or if we do, it is one that has been corrupted: Wooldridge prefers the term pluto-meritocracy... They would do well to read Wooldridge’s erudite, thoughtful and magnificently entertaining book. They will find many uncomfortable truths in it. Most alarming of which may be that for all their intellectual peacocking our elites cannot seriously claim any longer to represent the most brilliant members of society. “The engines of upward mobility have been silting up for decades,” Wooldridge writes. Merit risks once again becoming divorced from success.

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