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Summary

The annual revenue of Koch Industries is bigger than that of Google, Goldman Sachs and Kraft Foods combined. But very few people have ever heard of Koch Industries because the billionaire Koch brothers want it that way. Now, in Kochland, Christopher Leonard has managed what no other journalist has done before: to tell the explosive inside story of how the largest private company in the world became that big. In doing so, Leonard also tells the epic tale of the evolution of corporate America over the last half century, in all its glory and rapaciousness. 

Koch is everywhere. It controls the fertilisers at the foundation of our food system. It controls the synthetics that make our diapers and carpets. It controls the chemicals that make our bottles and pipes. It controls the building materials that make our homes and offices. And it controls much of the Wall Street trading in all of these commodities. It makes money at every end of almost every deal. 

For five decades, CEO Charles Koch has kept Koch Industries quietly operating behind a veil of secrecy, with a view toward very, very long-term profits. When Wall Street came calling 20 years ago, trying to take Koch public, Charles Koch said no. He’s a genius businessman: patient with profits, able to learn from his mistakes, determined that his employees develop an almost a worshipful dedication to free-market ruthlessness, and a master disrupter. We think of disruption as something that happens in Silicon Valley, but this book will upend your understanding of what disruption really is. 

Charles Koch’s business acumen has made him and his brother David (Koch Industries’ co-owner) together richer than Bill Gates. But there’s a dark side to their story. If you want to understand how we killed the unions in this country, how we widened the income divide, how we stalled progress on climate change and how corporate America bought the influence industry, all you have to do is listen to this book.  

Seven years in the making, Kochland is like a true-life thriller, with larger-than-life characters driving the battles. The book tells the ambitious tale of how one private company consolidated power over half a century – and how in doing so, transformed capitalism into something that feels so deeply alienating to many Americans today.

©2019 Christopher Leonard (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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Fascinating, well researched, well written

I thought this might be too long to keep my interest, but it certainly did.
The book paints a broad picture of the Koch family, their empire, and their involvements in business and politics. This must have taken massive research effort, but the story is well told.
Btw, I listened at 1.7, and the narration lost nothing.

5 people found this helpful

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Interesting but long

A good insight on how Koch has shaped American politics with lobbyists and ‘think tanks’. It’s a bit long and unnecessarily so, but it’s a good story.

4 people found this helpful

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Interesting but a bit long winded

Well read, but sometimes delves into irrelevant detail. Some interesting facts, but needs some persistence to get through.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating

Such an interesting audiobook which looks at Koch brothers. The effects of a company like this has on modern life can't be overstated and its definately worth a listen.

1 person found this helpful

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Heartless.

The epitome of how to get rich and alienate people.
How one man's visionary tactics in the business world turned the American dream into a nightmare for everyday American citizens.

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A great investigation

Superbly researched and very well read. I had never heard of Koch industries or its industrial might. Turns out that Charles Koch and his political machinations is a man who deserves such a thorough expose. Greed is not too strong a word. It's a long book and the audio version
works really well. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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Shocking and depressing but it's important

what a depressing book in parts, excellently researched and well read but Charles Koch does not come across as a man I admire.

He has a striking inability to understand anything outside of his own self interests, society, redistribution of wealth and social services are an anathema to him.

Incredible he has built such an empire with such a fatal flaw, I hope Koch significantly changes over time or becomes no more.