"Kochland" Examines the Koch Brothers' Early, Crucial Role in Climate-Change Denial - 2019-08-13
If there is any lingering uncertainty that the Koch brothers are the primary sponsors of climate-change doubt in the United States, it ought to be put to rest by the publication of "Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America," by the business reporter Christopher Leonard. This seven-hundred-and-four-page tome doesn't break much new political ground, but it shows the extraordinary behind-the-scenes influence that Charles and David Koch have exerted to cripple government action on climate change.
Leonard, who has written for Bloomberg Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal, devotes most of the book to an even-handed telling of how the two brothers from Wichita, Kansas, built up Koch Industries, a privately owned business so profitable that together they have amassed some hundred and twenty billion dollars, a fortune larger than that of Amazon's C.E.O., Jeff Bezos, or the Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The project took Leonard more than six years to finish and it draws on hundreds of hours of interviews, including with Charles Koch, the C.E.O. and force without equal atop the sprawling corporate enterprise. (David Koch retired from the firm last year.)
While "Kochland" is more focussed on business than on politics, in line with Leonard's "The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business," from 2014, it nonetheless adds new details about the ways in which the brothers have leveraged their fortune to capture American politics. Leonard shows that the Kochs' political motives are both ideological, as hardcore free-market libertarians, and self-interested, serving their fossil-fuel-enriched bottom line. The Kochs' secret sauce, as Leonard describes it, has been a penchant for long-term planning, patience, and flexibility; a relentless pursuit of profit; and the control that comes from owning some eighty per cent of their business empire themselves, without interference from stockholders or virtually anyone else.