The Paradoxes of Influence

Emily Tamkin's Explorations of the Person George Soros

27 July 2020

As Tamkin emphasises in her book, there have been notable tensions and even contradictions between his financial operations and his philanthropic ambitions.

Over the past four decades, George Soros has been the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights.

The starting point for Emily Tamkin’s rich explorations in her The Influence of Soros is that the conspiracy theories that surround Soros’ person have become so prevalent in recent years that they threaten to obfuscate that he has indeed wielded tremendous influence — just not in ways that his detractors would want us to believe.

Divided into nine chapters that explore key episodes in which George Soros was particularly influential (without necessarily achieving his intended goals), this timely book sets three main tasks: to assess what Soros’s influence in finance, philanthropy, and politics has been; to disentangle that influence from the conspiracy theories that threaten to undermine it while examining where such ideas come from and what about Soros is so attractive to illiberal leaders looking for a bogeyman; and to dissect the tension between the goal of a fairer, freer, more equitable society and a billionaire employing his power and influence to further it.

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Ferenc Laczó

Ph.D. Assistant Professor in European History at Maastricht University.

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