Excerpt from Kochland by Christopher Leonard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America

by Christopher Leonard

Kochland by Christopher Leonard X
Kochland by Christopher Leonard
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 704 pages

    Oct 2020, 704 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

Because this book is the biography of an institution, not an individual, many people will come and go through its pages. Readers will meet Heather Faragher, a Koch employee who blew the whistle on systematic wrongdoing inside Koch, only to face the harshest consequences. Readers will meet Bernard Paulson, a hard-driving executive who helped Koch Industries break the back of a militant labor union. They will meet Dean Watson, a rising star at Koch Industries, who embraced the teachings of Market-Based Management but whose career collapsed under the weight of his own ambition. They will meet Philip Dubose, a Koch employee who stole oil to make his bosses happy. They will meet Steve Hammond, a warehouse worker who negotiated for workers' rights against his bosses at Koch. And they will meet Brenden O'Neill, a striving middle-class man from Wichita who became a millionaire on Koch's commodity trading floors. Unfortunately, many of these people will arrive and then fall away as Koch Industries moves forward and changes with the times. This is the nature of large institutions. The people in them come and go. If it is difficult to keep track of so many individuals, readers can turn to an alphabetical directory of characters at the end of the book.

There is one person, however, who is present for the entire fifty-plus year span of this story. He resides, almost the entire time, at the pinnacle of power at Koch Industries, driving it forward, shaping it to his vision, and reaping its great rewards. Charles Koch is the author, more than anybody, of Koch Industries' story.

Even though his influence is felt throughout Koch Industries, and throughout America's political system, Charles Koch remains a remarkably opaque figure. He prizes his privacy and cherishes secrecy. Countless people have tried to understand Charles Koch by looking at him from outside the tall walls and dark glass windows of Koch Industries headquarters. One of those people is an FBI special agent named James Elroy. He dedicated many years of his life to investigating the leadership organization of Koch Industries. Elroy was convinced, in 1988, that Charles Koch and his lieutenants were engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy.

That is why Elroy positioned himself, one day, in the middle of an Oklahoma cow pasture, holding a camera with a wide-angle lens, trying to surveil Charles Koch's employees. That is the moment where this book begins.

From KOCHLAND: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America by Christopher Leonard. Copyright © by Christopher Leonard. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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