First published in 1956, The Power
stands as a contemporary classic of social science and social
C. Wright Mills captivated readers with his penetrating analysis
and fiery critique of the organization of power in the United States,
calling attention to three firmly interlocked prongs of power: the military,
corporate, and political elite.
But while The Power Elite can be read
as an accurate account of what was taking place in America at the time it
was written, its underlying question of whether America is as democratic in
practice as it is in theory is every bit as significant to the culture of
What The Power Elite informed readers of in 1956 was how much the power
structure in America had changed during their lifetimes, and Alan Wolfe's
astute afterward to this new edition brings us up to date, illustrating how
much more has changed since then.
Wolfe offers profound insight into what
is still valid in Mills's book and also explores those predictions that have
not come to bear, discussing the radical changes in American capitalism,
from intense global competition and the collapse of communism to rapid
technological transformations and ever-changing consumer tastes.
A penetrating work that remains of
great relevance, The Power Elite stimulates us to think about the kind of
society we have and the kind of society we might want.