Book Buzz: Sons of Wichita by Daniel Schulman

#BookBuzz Praised as "fair-minded and inquisitive" by The Washington Post, and based on hundreds of interviews, the major biography about the wealthy and powerful Koch family -- one of the most influential dynasties of the modern age.


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 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 spent decades trying to remake the American political landscape and mainline their libertarian views into the national bloodstream. Before the death of David in August 2019, the two brothers together controlled a machine that is a center of gravity within the Republican Party. To their supporters, they were liberating America from the scourge of Big Government. To their detractors, they were 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 made their money, and how they lived 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.




Having participated w/a small group of libertarians for a decade plus and constantly arguing the self-serving points of the Libertarian agenda I was glad to read this book about the Koch Tyrants! No matter how much philanthropy they dole out due to their guilty conscience and avoidance of tax, I'll always be grateful that I am a common ordinary person who's achieved enough to have a roof over my head and food on the table. I do not adhere to Hayek, Mises or Ayn Rand. The libertarian agenda is nothing but another religion. These tyrants should be in jail, not corporate leaders and worse contributors to Citizen's United and other non-profits that have the ability to influence our vote. Wonderful the author had the courage to write so candidly about this family. I wonder if he has had threats of suits etc. A must read along with Jane Mayer's Dark Money.
—FalStaff



Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty by Daniel Schulman

Grand Central

ISBN 978-1455518722


Now available: Please click here


Daniel Schulman is a senior editor in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones, and a founding member of the magazine's investigative journalism team. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Psychology Today, Village Voice, and many other publications. He splits his time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

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