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The New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice • The incredible saga of the German-Jewish immigrants—with now familiar names like Goldman and Sachs, Kuhn and Loeb, Warburg and Schiff, Lehman and Seligman—who profoundly influenced the rise of modern finance (and so much more).
HandelmanLibraryTINR | Jan 19, 2024 |
The book does a fine job of recounting the lives and fortunes of the Koch family. But I came away feeling repulsed by the family itself and what they've done over the years. I should note that this was not a byproduct of any political disagreement with the well-explained and extensive political activities and financial support provided by some of the Koch family. Instead, I was pretty shocked at the amount of in-fighting, waste of time, energy, and money by the Koch brothers as they conduct legal battles against each other. Along the way, they basically destroy their own family. With all that the family had been given--a fortune beyond comprehension to most people, clearly superior intellectual capabilities, and rich opportunity afforded by living in the United States during their time--so much of their lives seems wasted for no good reason. Overall, definitely a downer, but my rating tries not to fault the author for recording a pathetic story.
Joe24 | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Jul 22, 2016 |
Schulman's book is a very readable introduction to understanding the highly influential Koch family. Although the Koch family probably found the book offensive, I actually found it sympathetic to the family.

The most useful aspect of the book is its clear explanation of the philosophy of Charles Koch and where he agrees and disagrees with the Tea Party and Republican Party. The book is highly recommended
M_Clark | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Feb 28, 2016 |
The book takes a perspective on these ultra-rich brothers from a political perspective from the left of where they reside yet it does manage to reveal interesting aspects of their lives and motivations. There is no question the rich are quite different in many ways and these brothers are certainly no exception.

Along with the larger then life wealth they managed to acquire with birth and to expand greatly upon we get a heavy dose of the squabbles that surfaced between them and the political motivations. Large sums of money equated to political muscle and power are devoted to libertarian cause and in a sense social engineering. Though we see some impact from these efforts we also see that even the deepest pockets are not always enough, other than buying politicians along the way. The Koch brothers themselves will soon enough fade away but their money and political legacy will live on to some extent as part of the political process that is fueled by it.
knightlight777 | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Oct 15, 2014 |
Those guys from Kansas

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty by Daniel Schulman (Grand Central Publishing, $30).

These are the guys who built the Tea Party and who, according to the groundbreaking piece in the New Yorker by Jane Mayer, were out to bring President Barack Obama down from the moment he was elected.

Daniel Schuman, a Washington bureau editor for Mother Jones magazine, started working on this book in 2012, when the Koch Brothers were big players in the presidential election. What he’s written is a family history—and an important one, considering how fully enmeshed in energy and industry this particular family has become.

The family’s patriarch, Fred, was born with the 20th century. An engineer who made a fortune in oil by the time he was 30, he also established the family in Wichita. His sons, Frederick, Charles, David and William, are not all equally involved in what we’ve come to think of as “the Koch Brothers”—at least, not in the political activism. It’s Charles and David who are the most active in right-wing politics—and, as Schulman notes, they don’t have quite the clout that many on the left think they do.

What they do have a lot of is money, and in close political races, that can make all the differences.

Schulman has been forced to work with public documents and existing information here, since the Kochs themselves weren’t interested in talking to him. He’s done a fantastic job, and one that is nothing if not measured, even-handed, and fair.

One of the most interesting things that comes out of Schulman’s work is a fuller understanding of where the activist Koch brothers’ politics lie: firmly in their own self-interest, as industrialists. They want low corporate taxes and low income taxes on the wealthy, cheap labor without protections, and minimal government regulation on business and industry.

They really don’t much care about social issues; David Koch even supports marriage equality.

In short, they’re libertarians. That doesn’t make them any less dangerous to representative democracy in this “money is speech and corporations are people” post-Citizens United era, but it does make them par for the course among the one percent.

Schulman’s readable, well-researched and fair family biography is imminently worth the time of readers who are interested in American politics and economics.
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KelMunger | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Aug 19, 2014 |
Not bad and a good insight into the minds of these lunatics.
Clearly the Kochs cheat like crazy, but since they are so successful, no one cares.
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annbury | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Jul 23, 2014 |
Having spent some time over the years in Wichita, Kansas, I knew it was a hotbed of right wing fanaticism, but I wasn't familiar with the workings of Koch Industries, or the strange family dynamics between the four Koch brothers. This book tells the whole story and is surprisingly balanced considering that its author, David Schulman is the senior editor in the Washington Bureau of Mother Jones magazine.

The story starts with Fred Koch, the brothers' father, who was a founding member of the John Birch Society and a paranoid anti-communist. Along with Bob Love of Love Box Company, Fred Koch funded the Young Americans for Freedom organization in the 1960's and threw money at efforts to get the US out of the United Nations, fighting the Civil Rights legislation of 1964 and yes, working in opposition to fluoridation of the country's water supplies. He also tried to instill in his sons his free market, anti-communist philosophy. In this he was only half successful. His second son, Charles became a true believer along with David, one half of his twin sons. His eldest son, Frederick showed no interest in either his politics or his business, preferring to live the life of a patron of the arts. The other half of the set of twins, Bill, suffered from an inferiority complex and spent a large part of his adult life suing his siblings for what he had determined was his fair share of the family fortune.

The story of the internecine warfare between the brothers takes up about 1/3 of the book and reads like something out of a script for the TV shows Dallas or Dynasty, only far, far nastier. In the end, the brothers are barely tolerating each other.

Meanwhile, Charles Koch took over the business on the death of his father and proved himself to be not only a doctrinaire libertarian, but also a savvy businessman. When he took over the company in 1968 it had 650 employees and revenues of $50M. Fifteen years later in 1983, the company had 7000 employees and revenues of $1.5B. By 2012 company revenues were $115B

A true believer, Charles Koch has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to see his vision of laissez faire capitalism and the smallest government possible become a reality. He has implemented a three-pronged strategy to affect this change:
--Funding free market economic programs (emphasizing the Austrian school of economics) in colleges and universities to produce an intellectual class research scholars
--Funneling those scholars into the think tanks (like the Cato Institute) that he funds in order for the sometimes arcane economic message can be transformed into "usable form" for the masses
--Mobilizing citizen/activists to agitate for his policies (The Tea Party)

America saw these efforts played out in the 2012 Presidential election, which the Koch brothers lost. Undeterred, they are now recalibrating their message with an emphasis on women, Hispanics and young people as well as a focus on recruiting and training suitable candidates for future elections.

This book is eminently readable, and should be read by anyone concerned about the concentration of money in our political system
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etxgardener | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Jul 14, 2014 |
The author of SONS OF WICHITA did a hatchet job on the Kochs. It is a biased poorly written biography by a very liberal journalist who writes for the very liberal newspaper MOTHER JONES. The writing isn't all that great and the book is exceptionally biased against the Kochs. I wouldn't bother to read it unless you would enjoy the hatchet job.
SigmundFraud | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Oct 18, 2014 |
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