SOCIAL SCIENCES

Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America

S. & S. Aug. 2019. 704p. notes. index. ISBN 9781476775388. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781476775401. ECON
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Investigative business reporter Leonard (The Meat Racket) provides a far-reaching history from the late 1960s onward of the privately owned Koch Industries and its role in tearing away America’s New Deal consensus. Depicting Charles Koch’s control of the company as complete, Leonard says Koch, using a system called market-based management, has molded the company to mirror his libertarian philosophy. According to the author, after some acquisition missteps, brushes with government regulators, and a family schism, Koch Industries became successful by playing to its strengths of reacting to change quickly, taking a long-term view, and sourcing information from multiple channels. Leonard details the company’s commodities trading, expansion efforts, and union busting. He shows how Koch’s political power has intimidated elected officials, elected friendly ones, and influenced both tax and environmental policy to its advantage.
VERDICT Based on six years of research and with a fast-paced writing style that interweaves multiple stories, this illuminating work on the exceedingly influential Koch and his company will be welcomed by all readers of business or politics. Leonard does for Koch what Andrew Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail did for the 2008 financial crisis

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