“Makes a strong case that acute corruption causes not only social breakdown but also violent extremism…An important book that should be required reading for officials in foreign service, and for those working in commerce or the military. The story will interest the nonspecialist reader too.” (Giles Foden - New York Times Book Review)
“Chayes tells [a] fascinating story…[T]he central revelation in Thieves of the State: at a certain point, systemic corruption became not just a lamentable by-product of the war but an accelerant of conflict…Chayes argues, convincingly, [that state-sanctioned larceny is] a threat not just to Afghanistan’s national security but to that of the United States.” (Patrick Radden Keefe - New Yorker)
“[Chayes] tells the story of what happened in Afghanistan brilliantly, and compares her experience there with the current corruption in Egypt, Russia and the dismal rest…[a] page-turner.” (Deirdre N. McCloskey - Wall Street Journal)
“Essential.” (G. John Ikenberry - Foreign Affairs)
“Informative, thought-provoking, very interesting and concisely written…Through personal experience and her own research, Chayes makes a simple yet profound argument.” (Taylor Dibbert - Huffington Post)
“Thieves of State is a revolutionary book. It upends our understanding of the sources of violent extremism on its head, arguing that the governments we have been relying on to fight terrorism are themselves one of its most potent and insidious sources. Sarah Chayes weaves together history, adventure, political analysis, personal experience, culture, and religion in a shimmering and compelling tapestry.” (Anne-Marie Slaughter)
“Sarah Chayes provides a vivid, ground-level view on how pervasive corruption undermines U.S. foreign policy and breeds insurgency. Thieves of State provides critical lessons that all policymakers should heed.” (Francis Fukuyama)
“Sarah Chayes brilliantly illuminates a topic no one wants talk about―but we must. Corruption is an insidious force that is causing some of the most dangerous challenges our world is facing. It has to be at the core of America’s strategies, engagements and relationships for the twenty-first century.” (Admiral (ret.) Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
From the Author
Thanks very much for visiting this page, and for your interest in Thieves of State. I wrote this book to address a dumbfounding impasse: the inability of senior U.S. officials to make the connection between acute and abusive corruption and dramatic global upheavals, from the rise of violent extremism to the revolutions of the Arab Spring or Ukraine. What Thieves of State does is take you with me, so you can experience for yourself not just the abuse and humiliation of everyday corruption in many countries, but also the inner workings of the U.S. government as it reached a decision not to address the problem.
We'll also take a fascinating historical detour, for history has much to teach us about how people have grappled with these issues - and about how similar their responses have been across time and culture. We'll detail hard-nosed options for different approaches, and we'll take a glance in the mirror.
It is an unusual book: no dry, expository policy-wonk analysis, rather a riveting story that will keep you engaged. But you'll also find plenty of thought-provoking, even sometimes provocative, analysis. I hope that you like it, and that you will let me know your thoughts either way.