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Kochland

By: Christopher Leonard
Narrated by: Jacques Roy
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Summary

Shortlisted for the 2019 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year.

The extraordinary account of how the secretive Koch Industries became one of the largest private companies in the world.

Koch Industries, the sprawling industrial conglomerate owned by Charles and David Koch, specializes in the kinds of stunningly profitable businesses that undergird every aspect of modern life: it controls the nitrogen fertilizer that puts food on your table, the gasoline that powers your car, the fibres in your clothes, the building materials that make your homes and offices, and the microchips that drive your life online.

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. 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. 

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 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

Critic reviews

"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)

"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)

"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)

What listeners say about Kochland

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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.