Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, by Janine R. Wedel
Two distinct audiences will find much reward in reading Janine R. Wedel’s Shadow Elite. First, those concerned with the extant focus of the book: U.S. political-economic issues and public policy—albeit in a global context—and the trajectories of America’s neoconservatives. It is a vital area of inquiry and one that has considerable commercial appeal in light of the current power shift that has taken place in the United States; a power shift that allows a more objective, retrospective appraisal of the rise of the neoconservatives. Wedel’s central thesis, that the cultures of the Cold War impacted greatly on neoconservatism, surely deserves a critical appraisal. However, a second, perhaps more shadowy audience will be interested in Shadow Elite as a work of anthropology and as an example of the cutting edge of the discipline. The book sits alongside other recent work on neoliberalism and cultural critique by authors such as Aihwa Ong. This review will discuss what the book has to offer as an approach to anthropology in new contexts and areas.