Book summary by Piketty himself, in less than 4 minutes.
Document 2 : Why is Thomas Piketty's 700-page book a bestseller?
There’s been a bizarre phenomenon this year: a young, little-known French economist has written a 700-page tome about economic inequality – dense with data, historical examples from France, and a few literary references to Jane Austen.
That’s not the strange part. This is: it’s a bestseller. (…)Early in its launch, it hit No 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list and the paper version – a doorstop in punishing, heavy hardcover – sold out in major bookstores. (…)
Oh, and it’s pronounced like this: Tome-AH PEEK-a-tee. Now, over to the experts.
(…) WHEN the first volume of Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” was published in 1867, it took five years to sell 1,000 copies in its original German. It was not translated into English for two decades, and this newspaper did not see fit to mention it until 1907. By comparison, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is an overnight sensation. Originally published in French (when we first reviewed it), Mr Piketty’s vast tome on income-and-wealth distribution has become a bestseller since the English translation appeared in March. In America it is the top-selling book on Amazon, fiction included.
The book’s success has a lot to do with being about the right subject at the right time. Inequality has suddenly become a fevered topic, especially in America. Having for years dismissed the gaps between the haves and have-nots as a European obsession, Americans, stung by the excesses of Wall Street, are suddenly talking about the rich and redistribution. Hence the attraction of a book which argues that growing wealth concentration is inherent to capitalism and recommends a global tax on wealth as the progressive solution. (…)
1) Why is Thomas Piketty called “a modern Marx”? 2) What is the main topic of Piketty’s bestseller? 3) Could you define these concepts? 4) Why was the book so popular in the United States?
Document 4: Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”, summarized in four paragraphs
May 4th 2014, 23:50 by R.A., The Economist
(…) "Capital in the Twenty-First Century", written by the French economist Thomas Piketty, was published in French last year and in English in March of this year. The English version quickly became an unlikely bestseller, and it has prompted a broad and energetic debate on the book’s subject: the outlook for global inequality. Some reckon it heralds or may itself cause a pronounced shift in the focus of economic policy, toward distributional questions. But what’s it all about?
"Capital" is built on more than a decade of research by Mr Piketty and a handful of other economists, detailing historical changes in the concentration of income and wealth. (…) In the 18th and 19th centuries western European society was highly unequal. Private wealth (…) was concentrated in the hands of the rich families who sat atop a relatively rigid class structure. (…). Only the chaos of the first and second world wars and the Depression disrupted this pattern. High taxes, inflation, bankruptcies, and the growth of sprawling welfare states caused wealth to shrink dramatically, and ushered in a period in which both income and wealth were distributed in relatively egalitarian fashion. But the shocks of the early 20th century have faded and wealth is now reasserting itself. On many measures, Mr Piketty reckons, the importance of wealth in modern economies is approaching levels last seen before the first world war. (…)
1) How the concentration of income and wealth has been evolving since the 18th century until today? 2) Why did wealth of the richest families decrease after the second word war? 3) Is it still the case nowadays?