April 2016: Sons of Wichita





SONS OF WICHITA, How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, by Daniel Schulman; and DARK MONEY, The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer.

What is Dark Money and how is it used? It is large sums of money injected into a political campaign to elect legislators who are expected to do the bidding of the donor or money given to lobbyists who can persuade legislators to do the bidding of the donors.

The donors try to disperse their dark money anonymously but Jane Mayer and Daniel Schulman are amazing detectives as well as authors.

Some of the names of these billionaires are: Charles and David Koch (pronounced “coke”), James Arthur “Art” Pope, Sheldon Adelson, Richard Mellon Scaife, and many others. All are extremely wealthy. I was most impressed with the activities of the Brothers Koch and James Pope. To tell their stories fully requires more space than I am allowed in these “Librarian Recommends” articles, so for this piece I will only write about the Koch Brothers. Look for the next edition of our temple’s “The Message” to read the story of James Pope.

Dark Money is presently on the New York Times Best Seller list. Sons of Wichita had been at the time of its publication. Dark Money is not only about the Koch (pronounced coke) Brothers. It’s about dozens of billionaires who employ “dark money” for their personal desires. They often couch them in benefits to society…but it is usually to benefit them personally or their businesses. I tried drafting a brief biography of the Koch brothers but I think the one on the fly leaf of Sons of Wichita is the best.

“Not long after the death of his father, Charles Koch, then in his early 30’s, 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 be either 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 they rose to become two of the wealthiest men on the planet.

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 make their money, and how they live 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.”

Come visit our wonderful library or call Jerry Medowar to order a copy of these timely books. 623-6739 or judgejerry@optonline.net