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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel Schulman Narrator: Allen O’Reill Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Not long after the death of his father, whose heart gave out suddenly in November 1967, Charles Koch—then in his early thirties—discovered a letter his father had written when his four sons were small. “My dear boys,” it began, “when you are twenty-one, you will receive what now seems to be a large sum of money. It may either be a blessing or a curse.” “Above all,” he cautioned, “be kind and generous to one another.”

In the ensuing decades, Fred’s legacy became a blessing and a curse.

Two of his sons, Charles and David, joined forces to build Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world. But they ended up in an epic feud with brothers Bill and Frederick that spanned nearly two decades, tearing the family apart—and nearly Koch Industries along with it. Bill would start his own energy company and attain a modicum of fame as a litigious wine collector and yachtsman. After being marginalized by the patriarch because of his effete manner, Frederick became a patron of the arts and a fastidious refurbisher of historic estates.

Starting with their boyhood when fraternal disputes were sometimes settled in the boxing ring, Sons of Wichita takes you inside this highly private family and traces the evolution of these four distinct personalities, as well as their corporate, philosophical, social, and political ambitions. Influenced by the conservative, anticommunist sentiments of their father, a founding member of the John Birch Society, Charles and David devised an ambitious strategy to foist their ideological agenda upon the nation—quietly channeling millions of dollars of their fortune into a web of free market think tanks, academic programs, advocacy groups, and more, while also building what amounts to a shadow Republican Party, replete with a donor network capable of raising as much in an election cycle as the Republican National Committee. Never before did they flex their political muscles as vigorously as they did during the 2012 campaign, when Charles and David clashed with the Obama administration in what Charles described as the “mother of all wars.”

Like the Rockefellers before them, the Koch brothers are a great American dynasty. Unlike the Rockefellers, they have never before been the subject of a major biography.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A book that is closer to a family saga than a political exposé…Schulman has ably assembled everything known about the Kochs into a single, straightforward, understandable account…Sons of Wichita may strike some readers as surprisingly pro-Koch although Schulman leaves out no confirmable damning detail, especially about Koch Industries’ deadly indifference to environmental and safety matters… Sons of Wichita reminds us that political outcomes depend far more on ideas and organizations, and the energy and persistence devoted to them, than they do on the balance of power between good guys and bad guys.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Sons of Wichita feels as close to the truth as anyone is likely to get for a long time to come.”

    Financial Times

  • “Riveting…fair-minded and inquisitive. Schulman offers carefully observed details that help flesh out our image of the men whose money has so dramatically remade our politics, revealing much about their motives as well as the demons that haunt them.”

    Washington Post

  • “Mother Jones senior editor Schulman’s group portrait of the amazingly wealthy, strong-minded Koch brothers is a critical, but surprisingly nuanced tale of money and influence…This is a complex story of epic sibling rivalry, with important political dimensions.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Forget Dallas or Dynasty, this family saga of wealth and reprisals far exceeds anything you might see on TV. All My Children might have been a good alternative title for the book, though, because the fraternal infighting began with a hard-driving father who didn’t mind pitting son against son…While there is plenty about the Koch brothers’ business dealings and, of course, their political philosophies, this is, at heart, a tale about sibling rivalry writ large…Schulman is a senior editor at Mother Jones, but there’s no leftist edge here. His copious research results in a bias-free book that illuminates two of the most influential figures on the American landscape while telling a remarkable, if cautionary, tale about money, power, and the bonds of brotherhood.”


  • Mother Jones senior editor Schulman delivers provocative reportage on the Koch alpha-family legacy…Free from conjecture or personal criticism, Schulman’s astute account is buttressed by concrete research, legal documents, and verbatim interviews with family members and friends. A straightforward, evenhanded, and often riveting assessment.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Barnes & Noble's Biggest Books, May 2014
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
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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. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe MagazineColumbia Journalism Review, Psychology Today, Village Voice, and many other publications. He splits his time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

About the Narrator

Allen O’Reilly is an actor, educational director, and teacher at Georgia Shakespeare. His film credits include Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, Crimes and Mister Meanors, and The 12 Lives of Sissy Carlyle. He majored in Theater at Northern Arizona University and received his professional theater training at Actor’s Lab Arizona and The Alliance Theatre Intern Program.