Kochland : The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America
by Christopher Leonard


Overview - Just as Steve Coll told the story of globalization through ExxonMobil and Andrew Ross Sorkin told the story of Wall Street excess through Too Big to Fail, 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.

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.

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More About Kochland by Christopher Leonard
 
 
 
Overview
Just as Steve Coll told the story of globalization through ExxonMobil and Andrew Ross Sorkin told the story of Wall Street excess through Too Big to Fail, 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.

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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781476775388
  • ISBN-10: 1476775389
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: August 2019
  • Page Count: 704
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Business & Economics > Corporate & Business History - General
Books > Business & Economics > Industries - General
Books > Business & Economics > Economic History

 
BookPage Reviews

The past, present and future of American labor

As the national conversation about income inequality and corporate power continues, two new books by award-winning journalists are must-reads.


On the afternoon of March 25, 1911, an idealistic young labor worker was having tea with friends in New York’s Washington Square when the nearby Triangle Shirtwaist Company caught fire. Frances Perkins joined the crowd of helpless onlookers, who watched as 146 workers, many of them teenage girls, perished. It was a defining moment in labor history for many reasons, not the least of which was its enduring impact on Perkins, who became secretary of Labor for Franklin D. Roosevelt. She described that tragic afternoon as “the day the New Deal was born.”

Steven Greenhouse’s Beaten Down, Worked Up is a riveting reminder that most of us never learned this history in school. “Millions of Americans know little about what unions have achieved over American history, how the labor movement has played an important, often unsung role in making America the great nation it is today,” Greenhouse writes.

Yet he does more than focus on the labor movement’s milestones. By tracing what he calls “the downward arc of the union movement and of worker power,” he shows why income inequality in the United States is now worse than in any other industrialized nation. He also identifies obstacles to change in our political landscape and the campaign finance system. “That system,” he notes, “is dominated by ultra-wealthy, conservative (and vehemently anti-union) donors like the Koch brothers.”

Christopher Leonard picks it up from there. His extraordinary new book, Kochland, is the perfect complement to Greenhouse’s, providing a fascinating, in-depth analysis of Koch Industries and its astounding influence and power. Don’t let its 700-page length put you off: Leonard’s book reads like a thriller, and a dark one at that. It’s peopled with myriad characters as fascinating as those in “Game of Thrones” (and a dictionary of significant people is included).

Leonard begins his tour de force in 1981, when 45-year-old Charles Koch, who had run Koch Industries since the age of 32, turned down an offer to take Koch public. The strategy of remaining private has been integral to Koch’s success, Leonard argues, laying the foundation for “decades of continuous growth.” It’s also brought unimaginable wealth to Charles and David Koch, whose combined worth is estimated at $120 billion.

Leonard covers a lot of ground, but especially significant is a chapter analyzing Charles Koch’s long-held opposition to climate regulations. “A carbon-control regime would expose Koch to a brand-new regulatory structure, but it would also choke off decades of future profits as the world shifted away from burning fossil fuels,” Leonard tells us, reporting on a speech Charles Koch made in 2009.

Leonard devoted seven years to this book. In the acknowledgments he tells his kids that “all of it is for you.” Indeed, Kochland is essential reading for anyone concerned about the America our children and grandchildren will inherit.

 
BAM Customer Reviews