Being Piketty

For a guy who’s said to be the Karl Marx of the 21st century, Thomas Piketty is far more modest than you might think. He’s also no revolutionary: Piketty is deeply concerned about the unsustainable inequality he says the capitalist system is fated to create, but he’s not exactly calling on the workers of the world to unite and turn on the capitalists, the way old Karl did. It’s only one of the myths that have grown up around the suddenly famous French economist, whose pathbreaking 696-page book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (the title echoes Marx’s Das Kapital) became the viral ideas hit of the year when it was published in the United States, a surprise wonk bestseller amid the self-help titles and get-rich-quick books Americans usually favor. He’ll go global with editions in 20 more languages by January 2015. Piketty, who claims not to be leading the charge to the barricades but is nonetheless barnstorming from China to Brazil, Japan to Argentina, took time out to speak with Politico Magazine’s Michael Hirsh this summer from his Paris office.

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Reading Piketty: Photographs: Chloe Cushman/The Guardian

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