Every year, the Department of Global Health selects a Common Book to serve as a platform for our community of students, staff, and faculty to learn together on topics of common importance.

This DGH Common Book, as voted on by members of the department, is: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas.  

Winners Take All was also featured in the Roundup of 2022 DGH Books story.

Photo of author Anand Giridharadas next to his book 'Winners Take All'

In his book, former New York Times columnist Giridharadas investigates how the global elite’s philanthropic efforts to “change the world” preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. Learn more about the book.

Through reading and discussing this book, we will consider the consequences of relying on private giving to address systematic inequalities, as well as explore alternative solutions that have the power to build lasting global change.  

Insights from the book jacket provide a glance at the inner workings of this book and what the reader can expect to encounter, including mindful critical thinking thought-starters. "Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can — except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward "thought leaders" who redefine "change" in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity.

Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike. Read the New York Times review of his book.

Other resources to become familiar with Anand Giridharadas' work:


Anand is the author of The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy (2022), Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (2018), The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas (2014)and India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking (2011)A former foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times for more than a decade, he has also written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Time, and he is the publisher of the newsletter The Ink.

He has spoken on stages around the world and taught narrative journalism at New York University. He is a regular on-air political analyst for MSNBC.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he was raised there, in Paris, France, and in Maryland, and educated at the University of Michigan, Oxford, and Harvard.

He has received the Radcliffe Fellowship, the Porchlight Business Book of the Year Award, Harvard University’s Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanism in Culture, and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism


Past Events

Common Book Event: A Conversation with DGH and the Anand Girdharadas
Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 5 – 7 pm on Zoom

Author Anand Giridharadas will be speaking with the Department of Global Health. Winners Take All offers an insightful and disturbing critique of the increasingly powerful role billionaire philanthropists have assumed in setting the social change agenda, including in public health, both domestically and internationally. His critique speaks to the challenges we face in efforts to decolonize global health research and practice, center the priorities of the Global South, and promote equity in our work.

Watch the entire recording of his conversation with DGH here.

Seattle Town Hall Discussion with Anand Giridharadas with Naomi Ishisaka: Progressive Change Through the Art of Persuasion
with an introduction by DGH DEI Director James Pfeiffer

The discussion will focus on Giridharadas' new book The Persuaders, but the social justice and social change themes overlap with Winners Take All - growing inequality, the outsize influence of the extremely wealthy in social policy, and strategies for social change that impact population health around the world and in the U.S. 

Listen to a recording of the Town Hall Discussion here

The University of Washington encourages reading and to that end, it was with great pleasure that we were able to distribute 40 hard copies of the book to students, kindly donated by the Seattle Town Hall.