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Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty Kindle Edition

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Length: 412 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sons of Wichita feels as close to the truth as anyone is likely to get for a long time to come."―Financial Times

About the Author

Daniel Schulman is a senior editor in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones, and a founding member of the magazine's investigative journalism team. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Psychology Today, Village Voice, and many other publications. He splits his time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2972 KB
  • Print Length: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 20, 2014)
  • Publication Date: May 20, 2014
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EXTVS0K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,969 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Koch Brothers. Almost a metaphor today in certain circles, and depending upon your persuasion they might be viewed as either the biggest threat to our democracy that exists today (this might be the view from some Democratic party seats), or they might be considered the greatest heroes currently active in politics (from Tea Party or Libertarian seats).

Either way, this book really fills in a lot of details regarding just exactly who these men are, where they came from, and what their objectives are and how they are going about them. It's an important story, because the Koch family is today probably the single most influential private group in our domestic politics (they are said to have funnelled a staggering $400M into our most recent election cycle, through their various groups and channels - more than the Republican Party itself).

Believing in Libertarian principles - free market, with no government interference in the economy - David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party's candidate for Vice President in 1980, and Charles Koch has supported the party for many years. And as Libertarians, with beliefs and political views that are not always in line with many traditional conservative Republican positions, nevertheless the Koch brothers have become hugely influential in Republican politics in recent years. The book explains how this has come about - partially due to the intersection of some key issues where the Koch's Libertarian views agree with current Republican views, and partially due to the demonization of the Koch brothers by the current Democratic party, which may have in effect driven many Republican politicians into their camp.

Some history regarding the Koch family, which begins with the father, Fred Koch.
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Format: Hardcover
This doesn't show up as an Amazon Verified Purchase because Amazon was not stocking it, so I had to look elsewhere. . .

Anyway: I almost passed on this book because while I definitely wanted to know more about the Koch Brothers and their rise in the corporate world and their influence on politics, I was nervous because the author is an editor at Mother Jones. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I didn't want to read a paranoid Maddow-esque hatchet job.

As it turned out, I had nothing to fear. Schulman has written an incredibly even-handed, empathic look at these men--and how they became who they became. The most interesting thing is that, at least in his portrayal, the Koch brothers' political involvement really does seem to be motivated by principle, not by their own corporate interests. The really, really believe in these libertarian ideals, without hypocrisy. As for the infighting: It struck me as more sad than anything, and Schulman contextualizes it extremely well in terms of their childhoods.

Honestly: I think if a writer for The National Review had written this, conservatives would love it and think that it was great.

The writing is very crisp and the narrative well-structured. Just a really great book about some of the most important people in American life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My assumption on purchasing this book was that it would be a hit piece and was pleasantly surprised that it is not. I found it very even handed. No doubt, there are bad things about this family and their actions as with all familys, but there is also good. A product of their dysfunctional home with an overbearing controlling father, you could expect no less. The book goes into detail as to the making of Charles and his brothers. Their accomplishments and their downfalls. Definitely an interesting read. The old adage of having more money than god doesn't ensure happiness is apparent here even if the boys are unaware of it.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Way too many plots, subplots, twists and turns to do Dan Shulman's book justice in a short review. We hear about the political spending of Charles and David in the news, but there is oh so much more to this family. Two other brothers who are interesting in their own right, offices being bugged, people being threatened, a massive family squabble and above all, profits. Charles Koch is portrayed as a tyrant at the helm. He hates the government with a passion, loves nothing or anything more than money, and doesn't seem to care who gets hurt, dies, is cheated or stolen from as long as he comes out on top. This guy makes J.R. Ewing look like a Boy Scout. It would be great reading if it was fiction, but knowing that it's all true just makes it pathetic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't assume you know everything about the Koch family until you've read this book. Schulman treats the Kochs fairly and objectively throughout, but with enough detail to allow readers to make their own conclusion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm not usually a fan of biographies, and I was skeptical in general as to whether any book about the Koch brothers could be objective rather than heavily biased for or against them. But I downloaded a sample to my Kindle and was immediately hooked. Author Daniel Schulman appears to have done a careful job of in-depth research covering both the good and the bad of the family's history. Measured against the parts that I personally know about or have heard about from friends, it rings pretty true.

Importantly, the book shows that the Koch brothers are complex human beings, not the demons which their political opponents try to characterize them as. They are extremely intelligent and motivated. (As someone whose years at M.I.T. didn't quite overlap those of the Kochs', I'm certain that they didn't earn their degrees back then based on family influence.) The libertarian beliefs of David and Charles are deep-seated and based on a principled desire to maximize human liberty and achieve a freer and more prosperous society. Whether you agree or disagree with their specific political ideas, Schulman demonstrates that it's pretty hard to stereotype them as traditional conservatives when they also support so many civil liberties issues such as gay marriage and marijuana legalization and are opposed to foreign interventionism and wars.

The most interesting question which the book raised for me involved the endless fraternal infighting among the Koch brothers. On the one hand it seems tragic that there should have been so much jealousy and rancor and intrigue for so long. When you have that much money, isn't that enough to satisfy anyone without having to attack family members?
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