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Sons of Wichita

How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty

Schulman, Daniel

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Sons of Wichita
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"Like the Rockefellers and the Kennedys, the Kochs are one of the most influential dynasties of the modern age, but they have never been the subject of a major biography... until now. Not long after the death of his father, Charles Koch, then in his early 30s, discovered a letter the family patriarch had written to his sons. 'You will receive what now seems to be a large sum of money,' Fred Koch cautioned. 'It may either be a blessing or a curse.' Fred's legacy would become a blessing and a curse to his four sons--Frederick, Charles, and fraternal twins David and Bill--who in the ensuing decades fought bitterly over their birthright, the oil and cattle-ranching empire their father left behind in 1967. Against a backdrop of scorched-earth legal skirmishes, Charles and David built Koch Industries into one of the largest private corporations in the world--bigger than Boeing and Disney--and they rose to become two of the wealthiest men on the planet. Influenced by the sentiments of their father, who was present at the birth of the John Birch Society, Charles and David have spent decades trying to remake the American political landscape and mainline their libertarian views into the national bloodstream. They now control a machine that is a center of gravity within the Republican Party. To their supporters, they are liberating America from the scourge of Big Government. To their detractors, they are political 'contract killers,' as David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's chief strategist, put it during the 2012 campaign. Bill, meanwhile, built a multi-billion dollar energy empire all his own, and earned notoriety as an America's Cup-winning yachtsman, a flamboyant playboy, and as a litigious collector of fine wine and Western memorabilia. Frederick lived an intensely private life as an arts patron, refurbishing a series of historic homes and estates. SONS OF WICHITA traces the complicated lives and legacies of these four tycoons, as well as their business, social, and political ambitions. No matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, the Kochs are one of the most influential dynasties of our era, but so little is publicly known about this family, their origins, how they make their money, and how they live their lives. Based on hundreds of interviews with friends, relatives, business associates, and many others, SONS OF WICHITA is the first major biography about this wealthy and powerful family--warts and all"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Grand Central Publishing,, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781455518739
1455518735
9781478953388
Characteristics: 424 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates ; 24 cm

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A disappointing book that does not ring true to its title. Should be titled, The Koch Brothers and their Quest for control of the company. Author may not understand business and what it takes to build one and stay valuable for almost 100 years. Schulman is a journalist, not a researcher. Does not understand nor describe what the company does. Reads easy as a sleazy tabloid, giving the dirt on personal matters within the family. Sensationalized a lawsuit regarding two death in an unfortunate gas line leak, describing the details of the burning bodies of the victims. Does not explain really what the company does, nor how it provides value. I think it does employ 100,000 employees who support families. To stay in business, a company has to provide value and be run effectively. Schulman, the author may not understand this.
He chooses to write about the dirt within each of the brothers' lives. The founder was a poor country boy of immigrant parents who made his way to study engineering at MIT. Three of his four sons graduated in engineering from MIT as well. Analytical thinking helped propel the company to acquire other businesses and to create value for customers on what the company provides. It would be a shame for the author to profit from this sleaze material so if you must read , read a library copy. It is interesting, but it is NOT about how the Koch brothers built the company. That book would have to be written by alone one with more analytical skills and education. This book is a sleaze rag.

Nov 01, 2014
  • Memawrayne rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A very interesting and well-written book. It shows how some can get their way with money rather than respecting the voice of the voter. These brothers prove the old adage that "money can't buy happiness". But I don't think happiness is a part of their vocabulary. It is "get what I want at whatever cost and dismiss any other opinions.

Jul 31, 2014
  • voisjoe1 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book is valuable for exploring the lives of one the wealthiest and most right-wing families in America. The four sons of Fred Koch (a founder of the right-wing John Birch Society), inherited his fortune, and their current, combined wealth is more than $75B. Three of the sons are in the oil, etc. industry, with the two wealthiest sons, David and Charles, spending 100’s of millions of dollars on think tanks and election campaigns with the goal of basically eliminating oil industry restrictions, reducing or eliminating taxs for the 1% and getting candidates favoring the 1% take over Congress and the Presidency. Their most famous organizations are the Cato Institute, the Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works (ideological arm of the Tea Party), and the Mercatus Center of George Mason University. While 97% of the world’s scientists believe that oil and coal, etc. use by humans are a major cause of climate change, the Kochs and Exxon Mobile fund the 3% deniers. Unfortunately, the media then give the two sides equal time making many Americans believe the 3%, resulting in worse and worse climatic disasters each year. The Kochs have spent $67million in the last 15 years spreading their climate denying “theories.” The Kochs and their cohorts spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2012 in their effort to elect Mitt Romney, who would surely have been lowering taxes on the 1% and allowing the proliferation of air and water pollution by the oil industry.

Jul 13, 2014
  • Ham625 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A worthwhile book about the Koch brothers and American politics.

Jun 02, 2014
  • Laphroaig rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Several published reviews comment that this bio is unexpectedly balanced. I think the author wants to let the facts speak for themselves. Read this book; you won't be sorry. (But you may well be horrified.)

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