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Dark Money summary

Jane Mayer

The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

3.9 (151 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

'Dark Money' by Jane Mayer exposes the billionaires' funding of the radical right and reshaping of American politics to advance their interests.

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    Dark Money
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    The Koch brothers head a network funded by billionaires who are determined to control US politics.

    When it comes to US billionaires, you probably think of Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. But there are others who wield even more power, yet remain in the shadows.

    The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch run Koch Industries, the nation’s second-largest private company, which was founded by their father, Fred Koch, in 1940.

    Fred Koch started amassing his fortune by building oil refineries for the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin, which led to Koch’s company being commissioned to construct a massive oil refinery for Nazi Germany in 1934.

    Fred was indeed a Nazi sympathizer at the time. He even hired a nanny who was a Nazi sympathizer to look after his children. In fact, the nanny was such a passionate Nazi supporter that she moved back to Germany after Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940, when Charles was just five years old and David was a newborn baby.

    Eventually, Charles and David would grow up to become business partners, and since the 1970s they’ve been building an elaborate network of political donors and fundraising institutions. This network has so many arms, and reaches so deep into the heart of American politics, that it’s known as the Kochtopus.

    Ultimately, the goal has been to spread their message of libertarian values. These values focus on supporting a free market and small government devoid of regulations, taxes or anything else that might get in the way of profits.

    In 1980, this crusade led David Koch to make a brief run for office as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate. That year, the Libertarian Party only managed to capture around one percent of the national vote.

    But the experience informed the brothers’ future political strategy. They realized that a politician is merely a public voice – real power is creating and shaping the messages that those voices project.

    So, the Koch brothers decided to remain behind the scenes from that point onward, and began focusing their energy on an ambitious long-term strategy.

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    What is Dark Money about?

    Dark Money (2016) is a chilling look behind the scenes of American politics, outlining how a small handful of the country’s richest people have been influencing the country’s political landscape since the 1970s. Far from a conspiracy theory, these are the cold hard facts of the powerful and immensely wealthy individuals behind the rise of today’s radical right-wing conservative movement.

    Dark Money Review

    Dark Money (2016) sheds light on the hidden influence of wealthy donors on American politics. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It exposes the dark underbelly of campaign finance, revealing how untraceable money has reshaped the political landscape.
    • Through meticulous research and interviews, it uncovers the covert network of billionaires and corporations orchestrating political agendas.
    • With its jaw-dropping revelations and eye-opening anecdotes, the book offers a riveting exploration of the erosion of democracy.

    Best quote from Dark Money

    At one Tea Party rally, protesters had a banner depicting corpses from Dachau concentration camp, implying Obamacare was comparable to the Nazis state-ordered murders.

    —Jane Mayer
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    Who should read Dark Money?

    • Students of political science and economics
    • Political junkies and newshounds
    • Readers struggling to grasp the layers and complexities of US politics

    About the Author

    Jane Mayer is an investigative journalist and staff writer for the New Yorker and recipient of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2008. She is also the author of The Dark Side: the Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

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    Dark Money FAQs 

    What is the main message of Dark Money?

    The main message of Dark Money is the influence of wealthy donors on American politics.

    How long does it take to read Dark Money?

    The reading time for Dark Money varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Dark Money a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Dark Money is worth reading. It unveils the hidden workings of money in politics, shedding light on a crucial issue for democracy.

    Who is the author of Dark Money?

    Jane Mayer is the author of Dark Money.

    What to read after Dark Money?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Dark Money, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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