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Chrystia Freeland has won the $15,000 Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book on international affairs with Plutocrats. (Brian Ferraro)

A book that chronicles the rise of the super-rich and their unprecedented power in the age of globalization has won the $15,000 Lionel Gelber Prize.

Alberta-born journalist Chrystia Freeland took the prize for the best book in the world on international affairs with her Plutocrats, The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.  

"In Plutocrats, Chrystia Freeland describes the evolution of a new global elite of unprecedented economic, social and political power," the jury, chaired by William Thorsell, said in its citation.

"This mobile, denaturalized community affects the lives of billions as its wealth and values distance it from even the wealthiest of societies.  Freeland explores consequent issues of equity and accountability with fluency and intimacy, capturing the human dimension of a powerful and disturbing phenomenon."

Plutocrats argues that the wealthiest 0.1 per cent of the global population are outpacing the rest of us at break-neck speed and these oligarchs do not feel accountable to any government.

Freeland is global editor-at-large at Reuters news agency, based in New York. She was the deputy editor of Canada's Globe and Mail and has reported for the Financial Times, Economist, and Washington Post.

Freeland will receive her prize, named for a late Canadian diplomat Lionel Gelber, and deliver a free public lecture on April 15.

The jury, including Daniel W. Drezner, Gaynor Lilian Johnson, Walter Russell Meade and Margaret Wente, chose her book from a short list of five books:

  • Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum.
  • The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics by Paul Bracken.
  • Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarten.
  • From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia by Pankaj Mishra.