‘As Gods among Men. A History of the Rich in the West’, the latest book by Guido Alfani. Interview by Claudia Flisi, Washington correspondent, US-Italy Global Affairs Forum

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Everyone thinks about money this time of year, but Prof. Guido Alfani thinks of it differently from you and me. His book about the rich through the ages (US and Europe) contains some disturbing revelations, as revealed to me in our recent interview.

Guido Alfani is Professor of Economic History at Bocconi University, Milan (Italy). He is also an Affiliated Scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality (New York), a Research Associate at the CAGE Research Centre (Warwick) and a Research Fellow of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR, London). An economic and social historian and a historical demographer, his research focuses on economic inequality and social mobility, on the history of epidemics and famines, and on social alliance systems and social networks. Guido Alfani received his Master in Economic and Social Sciences (ESS/DES) in 2000 from Bocconi University, where he also completed his PhD in Economic History in 2004. He has been visiting professor or researcher at a variety of institutions in Italy, France, Sweden and in the United Kingdom.

His most recent book, As Gods among Men. A History of the Rich in the West, has been published in December 2023 by Princeton University Press. The book is an ambitious attempt at providing a general history of the rich and the super-rich, of their role in society, and of how they obtained their wealth, from antiquity until today.

Claudia Flisi is a bicultural freelance writer based in Washington DC. Her stories have appeared in the International New York Times, Newsweek, Variety, Fortune, The Economist Intelligence Unit, airline magazines, and many others.   She headed the Johns Hopkins alumni association in Milan for a decade, and has been active in SAIS alumni affairs.  She has visited more than 100 countries, fallen off horses on six continents, and trained dogs in three languages.

Claudia Flisi is a bicultural freelance writer based in Washington DC. Her stories have appeared in the International New York Times, Newsweek, Variety, Fortune, The Economist Intelligence Unit, airline magazines, and many others.   She headed the Johns Hopkins alumni association in Milan for a decade, and has been active in SAIS alumni affairs.  She has visited more than 100 countries, fallen off horses on six continents, and trained dogs in three languages.

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