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

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

by Daniel Schulman

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455518746
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 05/20/2014
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 529,638
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Daniel Schulman is a senior editor in the Washington bureau Mother Jones, and a founding member of the magazine's investigative journalism team.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Sons of Wichita 7

2 Stalin's Oil Man 27

3 "The Dead Will Be the Lucky Ones" 40

4 May Day at MIT 57

5 Successor 73

6 Rise of the Kochtopus 89

7 The Divorce 117

8 Mighty Mary 144

9 "My God, I'm Going to Die!" 163

10 The Art of War 176

11 There Will Be Blood 211

12 Planet Koch 240

13 Out of the Shadows 256

14 The Mother of All Wars 292

15 Legacy 353

Acknowledgments 373

Notes 377

Index 409

About the Author 425

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Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Sambenedict More than 1 year ago
Detailed, but highly readable account of the origins, development and refinement of the famous family's political beliefs and accumulation of wealth. In a human sort of way, you realize that they are not crazies, but highly intelligent and motivated true believers, which makes them all more dangers to free speech and political compromise. You realize that they are truly the most dangerous men in America to economic rights and equality.
Trish75 More than 1 year ago
A very well written book that gives a broad insight into the Koch Brothers and their political involvement. It is not a rant....Schulman writes factually, with documented research to back up his writing. The book is also extremely interesting! A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is well written. It is interesting. It is unbiased. They are dangerous and intelligent. But after reading the whole book I came away knowing i could not understand them. They are lacking in compassion and/ or humanity. They reminded me of soulless profit driven robots.
PatFay More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of the Koch family. Charles Koch was the founder of the Libertarian Society.   His brother David was the face of the organization.  Their philosophy was born of the rugged West of the 1800's.   The book tells of their desire and effort to bring America back to these "good old days."   The author does a balanced job of portraying them, yet shows the many destructive things they've done and want to do.   The election of President Obama is a hard pill for the Kochs to swallow. . 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. I wondered what made the the Koch Brothers tick, now I know. Nothing says manipulated better than "Market Based Management." Glad I like Bounty better than Brawny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is well-organized, easy to read, and unbiased. It presents a fair picture of the obscenely wealthy Koch brothers and their efforts to buy the United States government for their own greedy, selfish ends. How would the country be different if they and their wealthy pals donated their money to charity instead?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lvmybug More than 1 year ago
This book is a quick read and not as bias as I thought it would be. It is well researched and gives a good round picture of the Koch Brothers, Father and Mother. Although it just amazed me that Charles Koch couldn't understand why more Americans didn't follow his political beliefs. All though the book I wrote in the sidelines: because my beliefs are just as solid and just as strong as yours! EXCELLENT book. A must read.
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BKLaw More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting and detailed book describing the lives and influences of the Kock brothers.