The Golden Passport by Duff McDonald
Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite

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McDonald bookends his long and impressively researched account with a portrait of Casey Gerald, an African-American who delivered a 2014 Class Day speech that’s been viewed online over 200,000 times, and is featured on the school’s “Making a Difference” website.
-NY Times

Synopsis

With The Firm, financial journalist Duff McDonald pulled back the curtain on consulting giant McKinsey & Company. In The Golden Passport, he reveals the inner works of a singular nexus of power, ambition, and influence: Harvard Business School.

Harvard University still occupies a unique place in the public’s imagination, but the Harvard Business School eclipsed its parent in terms of influence on modern society long ago. A Harvard degree guarantees respect. But a Harvard MBA near-guarantees entrance into Western capitalism’s most powerful realm—the corner office. And because the School shapes the way its powerful graduates think, its influence extends well beyond their own lives. It affects the organizations they command, the economy they dominate, and society itself. Decisions and priorities at HBS touch every single one of us.

Most people have a vague knowledge of the power of the HBS network, but few understand the dynamics that have made HBS an indestructible and dominant force for almost a century. Graduates of HBS share more than just an alma mater. They also share a way of thinking about how the world should work, and they have successfully molded the world to that vision—that is what truly binds them together.

In addition to teasing out the essence of this exclusive, if not necessarily “secret” club, McDonald explores two important questions: Has the school failed at reaching the goal it set for itself—“the multiplication of men who will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways?” Is HBS complicit in the moral failings of Western capitalism?

At a time of soaring economic inequality and growing political unrest, this hard-hitting yet fair portrait offers a much-needed look at an institution that has had a profound influence not just in the world of business but on the shape of our society—and on all our lives.

 

About Duff McDonald

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Duff McDonald is a contributor to Fortune and the New York Observer, who has also written for Vanity Fair, New York, Esquire, GQ, WIRED, and Conde Nast Portfolio, among other publications.
 
Published April 25, 2017 by HarperBusiness. 672 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Business & Economics. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Golden Passport
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
on Feb 07 2017

As McDonald rightly notes, deep investigations into the economic inequality spawned by the current capitalist system are egregiously missing from the Harvard MBA curriculum. A tome that alternates between a useful exposé and a slog—best for HBS alumni and business historians.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by JAMES B. STEWART on Apr 24 2017

McDonald bookends his long and impressively researched account with a portrait of Casey Gerald, an African-American who delivered a 2014 Class Day speech that’s been viewed online over 200,000 times, and is featured on the school’s “Making a Difference” website.

Read Full Review of The Golden Passport: Harvard ... | See more reviews from NY Times

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Trevor Cole on May 26 2017

Of the three, Golden Passport is by far the most ambitious, and in McDonald's hands this history of the Harvard Business School, its successes and failures, misdeeds and misapprehensions, becomes a window into the increasingly corrupted soul of mercantile America.

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