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The Secret History Of Koch Industries And Corporate Power In America

Christopher Leonard's Kochland uses the extraordinary account of how one of the biggest private companies in the world grew to be that big to tell the story of modern corporate America.

The annual revenue of Koch Industries is bigger than that of Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and U.S. Steel combined. Koch is everywhere: from the fertilizers that make our food to the chemicals that make our pipes to the synthetics that make our carpets and diapers to the Wall Street trading in all these commodities. But few people know much about Koch Industries and that's because the billionaire Koch brothers want it that way.

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For five decades, CEO Charles Koch has kept Koch Industries quietly operating in deepest secrecy, with a view toward very, very long-term profits. He's a genius businessman: patient with earnings, able to learn from his mistakes, determined that his employees develop a reverence for free-market ruthlessness, and a master disrupter. These strategies have made him and his brother David together richer than Bill Gates.

But there's another side to this story. If you want to understand how we killed the unions in this country, how we widened the income divide, stalled progress on climate change, and how our corporations bought the influence industry, all you have to do is read this book.

Seven years in the making, Kochland reads like a true-life thriller, with larger-than-life characters driving the battles on every page. The book tells the ambitious tale of how one private company consolidated power over half a century - and how in doing so, it helped transform capitalism into something that feels deeply alienating to many Americans today.

This post first appeared at New America under a Creative Commons license.

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The Secret History of Koch Industries.

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See also:

* New Yorker: Kochland Examines The Koch Brothers' Early, Crucial Role In Climate-Change Denial.

"If there is any lingering uncertainty that the Koch brothers are the primary sponsors of climate-change doubt in the United States, it ought to be put to rest by the publication of Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, by the business reporter Christopher Leonard.

"This seven-hundred-and-four-page tome doesn't break much new political ground, but it shows the extraordinary behind-the-scenes influence that Charles and David Koch have exerted to cripple government action on climate change.

"[The] book reveals that [the Koch brothers[ played an earlier and more central role in climate-change denial than was previously understood."

* NPR: Kochland Explores How The Famous Brother Duo Made Their Money.

"What Kochland, the new book from Christopher Leonard, adds to the story is not so much an account of the ways in which the brothers spend their money, but rather, a richly reported tale of how they make it - the inner workings of one of the nation's largest private corporations.

"To be sure, the Koch brothers aren't entirely self-made. They got a sizable head start from their father. Fred Koch, a co-founder of the far-right John Birch Society, assembled his own mini-empire of ranches, factories and oil pipelines. But Charles and David Koch supersized this fortune."

* New York Times: The Truth About Koch Industries.

"[R]anks among the best books ever written about an American corporation."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on August 16, 2019


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