Simon Kuper in Wired:
Piketty’s 753-page book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in 2013, sold 2.5 million copies worldwide and helped put inequality on the global agenda. But his latest, the even thicker Capital and Ideology, may prove still more influential. The book is nothing less than a global history of inequality and the stories that societies tell to justify it, from premodern India to Donald Trump’s US. It arrives just as anger about inequality (some of it generated by Piketty’s work) approaches a boiling point, and was channeled by a contender for the White House, Bernie Sanders.
Capital and Ideology builds on Piketty’s long-standing argument that inequality has soared across the world since 1980. It proposes strong remedies. Piketty wants to slap wealth taxes of 90 percent on any assets over $1 billion, and he waxes nostalgic about the postwar decades when British and American top marginal income-tax rates were over 80 percent.
Much of Piketty’s information comes from the World Inequality Database (WID), which he created with colleagues. A free website, to which over 100 researchers have contributed, it claims to include “series on income inequality for more than 30 countries, spanning most of the 20th and early 21st centuries, with over 40 additional countries now under study.” The WID’s coverage keeps getting more international, as more material from Asia, Africa, and Latin America is added. The site is now trying to expand its focus from income to the even harder-to-chart terrain of wealth.