Does power corrupt, or are corrupt people drawn to power? Are entrepreneurs who embezzle and cops who kill the outgrowths of bad systems or are they just bad people? Are tyrants made or born? If you were thrust into a position of power, would new temptations to line your pockets or torture your enemies gnaw away at you until you gave in?
To answer these questions, Corruptible draws on over 500 interviews with some of the world’s noblest and dirtiest leaders, from presidents and philanthropists to rebels, cultists, and dictators. It also makes use of a wealth of counter-intuitive examples from history and social science: You’ll meet the worst bioterrorist in American history, hit the slopes with a ski instructor who once ruled Iraq, have breakfast with the yogurt kingpin of Madagascar, learn what bees and wasps can teach us about corruption, find out why our Stone Age brains cause us to choose bad leaders, and learn why the inability of chimpanzees to play baseball is central to the development of human hierarchies.
Corruptible will make you challenge basic assumptions about how you can rise to become a leader and what might happen to your head when you get there. It also provides a roadmap to avoiding classic temptations, suggesting a series of reforms that would ensure that better people get into power while ensuring that power purifies rather than corrupts.
In his all-too-short life, Philipp Otto Runge brought an almost shocking originality to everything he attempted.