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I could hardly stop listening; the author grabbed my attention and held it all the way to the end of the book. It is amazing how much information Daniel Schulman has been able to gather about the Koch family, from public records, newspaper reports and court documents. The family refused to be interviewed for the book. Schulman starts with Fred Koch who was born in 1900 and grew up in Quanah, Texas, son of a Dutch immigrant. His father was a printer who brought a printing press to Quanah and established a newspaper. Fred worked at various jobs and worked his way through school. He graduated for M.I.T. in engineering. He invested three hundred dollars and started a company providing the needs of oil refineries. He built this into a multi-million dollar company. He married a Kansas City debutant Mary Robinson. They had four sons Frederick, Charles, twins David and William. Fred worked the boys hard and had the boys compete against each other. They attended boarding schools and M.I.T. except Frederick who attended Harvard with a degree in the arts. Fred was a founding member of the John Birch Society. He taught Charles his political view point but Charles eventually became a member of Libertarian party. Frederick never worked in the company business and had very little to do with the family. He lived in New York City or London restoring old historical buildings, and is a collector and patron of the arts. Charles, David and Bill worked in the company until Bill broke away and brought many lawsuits against the family. Bill built his own engineering company which is now a multi-billion dollar business. Charles and David took the business over from the father and built it into a multi-billion dollar business. Schulman had done a good job assembling everything known about the Koch’s into a single straight forward, understandable account. The author leaves out no confirmable damming detail particularly about the Koch Industries indifference to environmental and safety matters. The Koch’s Libertarian belief about small or no government appeared to have made them think they did not have to adhere to laws that interfered with their business. After they lost the lawsuits from the EPA they did change the way they ran the company and started to adhere to all laws. Schulman interviewed employees to gather information about Charles’s “Market Based Management” system. The author points out that the Koch’s donate not only to the Republican Party but also to selected Democrats as well. The brothers individually and with the Family Foundation donate heavily to the arts and medical research. I felt the author presented a well balanced, well researched report about the Koch family. Allen O’Reilly did a good job narrating the book.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
The most interesting part of this book was hearing about the Koch Brothers' father and their upbringing. Unfortunately, so much of the focus is on the scandalous in-fighting that there is very little time spent on the business and the intelligence and drive of Charles and David. While I learned a few interesting factoids about the brothers, it got tiresome listening to fight after fight, lawsuit after lawsuit, family vs. family.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
It's not a bad book, and it's well read. However do not read it if you want to know even an iota about how the Koch's built their businesses through intelligence and foresight - read if you want to hear the same story about how much art Fredrick Koch buys. Very repetitive and the writer clearly was breathless at being let into the Koch's world. Their PR people did a great job as the salacious stories are all well trodden and there's a lot about their "philanthropy"
Not sure what I was hoping for, but I didn't find it. Most of this book banged on about their legal sagas. Kind of interesting but nothing more than that.