Synopses & Reviews
As president of the World Bank for a decade, James Wolfensohn tackled world poverty with a passion and energy that made him a uniquely important figure in a fundamental arena of change. Using a lifetime of experience in the banking sector, he carved a distinct path in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe for the institution that serves as the major lender to the world's poor.
In A Global Life, Wolfensohn tells his astonishing life story in his own words. A man of surpassing imagination and drive, he became an Olympic fencer and a prominent banker in London and New York. An Australian, he navigated Wall Street with uncommon skill. Chairman of Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for many years, he is also an amateur cellist. But it was his tenure at the World Bank that made him an international force. While at the helm of this controversial institution, Wolfensohn motivated, schemed, charmed, and bullied all the constituencies at his command to broaden the distribution of the world's wealth. Now he bluntly assesses his successes and failures, reflecting on the causes of continuing poverty.
Much more than a business story, this is a deeply reflective account of a fascinating career and personality.
"Now 76 years old, Wolfensohn (Voice of the World's Poor) has had a rich and varied life as an investment banker, chairman of Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, head of the World Bank, and finally advocate of peace as special envoy to the Middle East. The first third of the book is devoted to a fascinating chronicle of his early life growing up in a close-knit, middle-class Jewish family. His parents, who emigrated from Britain to Australia, faced tough financial times during the Great Depression and over-coddled the young Wolfensohn, expecting him to excel. Though he nearly flunked out of Sidney University, he ultimately earned a law degree and went on to receive an MBA at Harvard and become a U.S. citizen. He writes candidly of the mistakes he made during his long and successful career and the lessons they taught him. Married to his college sweetheart, with three children, he claims that the idea of writing this book, 'grew out of a desire to leave... a record of the events that shaped me' for his adult children, and in the hope that younger readers might be encouraged to 'follow at least some part of the path he has taken.'
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Kirkus, August 15, 2010
“The author’s candor … is refreshing, as is his frank assessment of his own strengths and shortcomings…. An often engaging memoir that is especially strong in its insights into global poverty.”
Kofi A. Annan
“A Global Life is an eloquent and moving memoir of one man’s journey to make a difference in the world. In his typically candid and refreshing style, Jim Wolfensohn describes the milestones in his life which led him to believe that unless we tackle the core issues of development and poverty, we will not create a peaceful world for our children. This is a book that will inspire all those who see the need for change in this world, and wish to make a contribution.”
Michael Beschloss“Jim Wolfensohn is not only a hero to the world’s poor, but a preeminent global leader in politics, philanthropy, business and finance, the arts, international security, and even sports. He is a force of nature; there is no one else like him; and this elegant and absorbing book gives us the inside story of how he did it all. Anyone who seeks to understand the global history of the last half-century should be sure to read it.” Vartan Gregorian“This is an absorbing memoir written by an extraordinary man who has lived through extraordinary times. The arc of James Wolfensohn’s career has spanned the globe, from Australia to England to the U.S., building the Global Life he writes of in these pages with great eloquence and honesty. Wolfensohn’s utter commitment to living a life of dignity and to promoting equity and social justice resonate through every page of this volume. It is a must-read.” Vernon E. Jordan, Jr."It's a long way from Sydney, Australia to the pinnacle of the world's public and private sectors. Jim Wolfensohn made the journey with courage, confidence and ability. A Global Life is instructive, inspiring, powerful." Strobe Talbott“As Jim Wolfensohn’s vivid and powerful story makes clear, he is a rare and in many ways unique citizen of the world—a man for all seasons and all regions. He was a transformative president of the World Bank, and his indefatigable (and hitherto undervalued) efforts on behalf of peace the Middle East could not be more relevant to today’s headlines from those troubled lands.”
"In August, the World Bank redirected nearly a billion dollars in aid to Pakistan from development projects to emergency flood relief. Weeks of heavy rain had left millions of Pakistanis without food, shelter, clean water, or medical care. Media coverage was sparse, and private donors -- on vacation? fatigued from Haitian earthquake relief? -- few and far between. The World Bank, however, responded immediately to the disaster. While this might seem a natural role for a well-capitalized international institution, crisis intervention has not been the business of the bank for much of its history. The shift in recent years is due in no small part to James Wolfensohn, World Bank president during the tumultuous decade from 1995 to 2005." Georgia Levenson Keohane, The Wilson Quarterly
(Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review
The autobiography of the larger-than-life, visionary financier and humanitarian who led the World Bank through one of its most intense and tumultuous decades in the struggle against global poverty
About the Author
James D. Wolfensohn
was president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005. He and his wife, Elaine, have three children.