- Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Export/Airside edition (2 September 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1471187500
- ISBN-13: 978-1471187506
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.2 x 23.4 cm
- Customer Reviews: 187 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Kochland Paperback – 2 Sep 2019
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'If you want a crash course in the evolution of postmodern capitalism over the last five decades read Kochland....Leonard's study is exhaustive and engaging.' * New York Journal of Books * 'This page-turning expose reveals the full extent of the Koch brothers' influence on American capitalism.' * Book Riot * 'Leonard's intricately developed and extensively researched history of the Koch empire is a colossal corporate biography that sheds important light on this closely guarded enterprise while simultaneously scrutinizing the nefarious underpinnings of American economic policies and practices.' * Booklist * 'Leonard's superb investigations and even-handed, clear-eyed reportage stand out....American capitalism at its most successful and domineering is at the center of this sweeping history of a much-vilified company.' * Publishers Weekly * 'A landmark book....A massively reported deep dive into the unparalleled corporate industrial giant Koch Industries....This impressively researched and well-rendered book also serves as a biography of Charles Koch, with Leonard providing an evenhanded treatment of the tycoon. Leonard's work is on par with Steve Coll's Private Empire and even Ida Tarbell's enduring classic The History of the Standard Oil Company.' * Kirkus Reviews * 'Christopher Leonard has produced an investigative feat: a hugely readable, entirely original, magisterial work on one of the most important subjects of our time - the weirdly cultish, terrifyingly successful empire built all-but invisibly by the billionaire sphinx Charles Koch.' -- Steve LeVine, author of The Oil and the Glory 'Christopher Leonard's Kochland is the kind of book that doesn't come along that often - a mind-blowing feat of reporting about a highly secretive organisation. What's even more amazing is that it seems destined to further convince both sides about the righteousness of their point of view. Those who believe in unfettered free-market capitalism will find much to feast on, while those concerned with the corrosive effects of growth at all costs will find more than enough to gorge on as well. And if the one side will see promise while the other sees peril, both should be able to agree on what this story is really about, which is power - and a terrifying amount of it at that.' -- Duff McDonald, New York Times bestselling author of The Firm 'Christopher Leonard's visionary, decade-spanning, and heart-rending investigation into the Koch Empire is indispensable not just for understanding the rise of corporate power in America, but for understanding America itself. Leonard's book will take its place alongside Chernow's Titan and Coll's Private Empire as one of the great accounts of American capitalism.' -- Jesse Eisinger, author of The Chickenshit Club 'Kochland is a dazzling feat of investigative reporting and epic narrative writing, a tour de force that takes the reader deep inside the rise of a vastly powerful family corporation that has come to influence American workers, markets, elections and the very ideas debated in our public square. Leonard's work is fair and meticulous, even as it reveals the Kochs as industrial Citizens Kane of our time.' -- Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Private Empire
About the Author
Christopher Leonard is a business reporter whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Bloomberg Businessweek. He is the author of The Meat Racket and Kochland, which won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
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The BEST Business Book I have read so far. Nothing comes close.
The KOCH bros are the top 5 richest people on earth. You HAVE to own, read & study this book to figure:
- The DEEP dive into what makes businesses successful. The relentlessness of Charles Koch to IMPROVE, study, innovate, improvise, be firm & NEVER give in.
- The early stories of how Koch obliterated the Labor union is personal to me. My socks factory in Lower Parel had the same issues.
- The WHY of staying "private" and not going for glam, PR, noise, etc. No branding, marketing, 'logo making' 🙂
- The institutionalisation of the Corporate's Playbook. It's so hard to set common agendas & missions. (I fell for the rigour of the process vs the content (unknown)
- How opportunities are seized by those who are ready. The Business of PREPAREDNESS.
- The MACHINE that Koch built to control Washington. Scary but fascinating.
- How everything boils down to UNRELENTING HARD WORK.
- The nuclear level of DETAIL that KOCH went into everything.
- The approach of frugality. (Office decors, chairs, all 'normal)
- The model to create wealth from Knowledge, Data, Work.
Top international reviews
The book seemed to me to have two particular defects.
The first, which seemed to me glaring, was this. The author refers to Koch’s ideas about ‘market-based management’, and to the central role that they have had in the company. But he does not explain the ideas – despite Koch having written a couple of books about them, and giving those joining the company a training course in them. Given that they are constantly referred to through the book, this is odd. But there is more. The author refers to Koch’s interest in Hayek and Mises, and also to the company’s interest in information, its transmission and effective use, and to having employees act, as far as possible, like entrepreneurs. What the author seems to me to have been too dim to understand, or if he did to explain to his readers, are the interconnections between these things. Hayek is particularly well-known for his emphasis on the social dispersal of knowledge, and the way in which the price system allows for people to act on the basis of their own knowledge and thus to make use of it for the benefit of other people. Mises stressed the key role of entrepreneurship (Israel Kirzner, another important ‘Austrian’ economist, has developed these ideas further). All this clearly generates the problem of how one is to make use of this perspective within a company, and it is this that, on the face of it, lies at the heart of Koch’s concerns with information, and with entrepreneurial action on the part of its staff. By not going into these ideas, the author tells us only part of the story. When he does refer to Hayek and Mises, he does so in a somewhat disparaging way, treating them simply as free-market economists. While market-based management is referred to a lot, but we are not told anything significant about its substance, and how that connects with the activities of the company which he discusses.
The other defect, is that the author says relatively little about Koch’s support for market-based movements and institutes, other than in the context of the later involvement of some of these with Koch’s political lobbying. But Charles Koch put a lot of money and personal effort into these, including much that did not relate in any way to the political interests of his company, and long before there was any relationship between them and the Koch company’s lobbying activities. It would not have been difficult to research this history – by way of a reading of the literature (e.g. Brian Doherty’s excellent Radicals for Capitalism), or by interviewing people who know about it. The result is at times that we are offered a very strange account of things (e.g. of the influence of writing by Murray Rothbard), and at others things seem to me to get confused (as when, it would appear, the Institute for Humane Studies, Texas, is confused with the Institute for Humane Studies of California and then George Mason University).
All told, an interesting read but with a bit of work on the author’s part it could have been a lot better.
And being obsessive with facts and information to utilize to become more efficient is somehow . . .unfair?
The author seems to go quite out of the way to emphasize his political points as well; examples are replete. One of the most obvious is on page 555 in EPA discussion, where "office workers with lanyards around their necks" (Really?) and "packs of sightseers . . . wearing red "Make America Great Again" baseball hats" enter the story. So what of it - and why is it relevant? Gimme a break . . .
The author clearly struggles with assailing and demonizing Koch corporate culture and its compliance with legal (even moral and ethical) matters, while simultaneously explaining Koch's 10,000% compliance policy (100% compliance 100% of the time). Go figure . . .
Liked the book - could have done much better without the political disdain and sneering.
Long paragraphs of “local color” begin chapters; Chapter 24 starts with 233 words of formulaic fuff. Another lapse is “like,” which can mean “for example” or “as if.” In this book, “like” pretends to indicate what was said, but instead is fanciful interpolation. Blurring fact and fiction undercuts confidence and suggests an over-zealous editor.
It’s a good book, informative, if a bit tedious. The larger problem is its moral center; it’s so reportorial it leaves the obvious to implication. Koch's life is the story of a zealot willing to dehumanize others, threaten his country, and degrade the biosphere for the sake of a philosophy that makes greed a virtue. This book should have made that explicit, rather than ending with a threat of more of the same to come.
I wanted to know more about campaigns that undercut mass transit to keep gas prices high, but otherwise the book opened my eyes to interventions that have shaped the politics, society, and economy of my life; anyone should read it for that reason.
As for the Koch empire, it's so single minded its fate will be what Thucydides predicted for Sparta: No two stones of it will be left standing.
He somehow sneaks into readers heads and know when things are too technical for too long. He knows when to go from refinery language to more personal stories of workers. Easily drawing the reader in for one more chapter.
The book was fairly written. While I disagree with Koch’s philosophy and politics, I found myself wanting to learn more about Market Based Management (hard book to find apparently) and Charles Koch personally.
I found the parts on Chase Koch, Charles’ parenting methods, and summer high school grueling work especially fascinating.
I found it like Atlas Shrugged but with real characters.