A few thousand people now hold unparalleled power over world affairs. The members of this group, which I call the "superclass," come from business, finance, politics, the military, the arts, the nonprofit world and other realms, including even "shadow elites" from terrorist or criminal organizations. Each member is set apart by his ability to regularly influence the lives of millions of people in multiple countries worldwide. Each actively exercises this power and often amplifies it through the development of relationships with other superclass members. To be a member one has to hold on to power just long enough to make an impact, be it by leading a revolution or launching a revolutionary Web site.
Who are the members of this global elite and, more important, what is the nature of this group, how does it connect, and how is it changing? To help understand the answer to this question I compiled more than 6,000 names in a rough census, a snapshot of the tiny community of the most powerful people on the planet at this moment. Many are profiled or identified in the book. However, to give you a few illustrations from that list, here are 10 samples drawn from the roster of today's superclass, prepared exclusively for NEWSWEEK and organized according to location, age, and profession:
[rest can be found following the link]