On Corruption in America: And What Is at Stake

Sarah Chayes. Knopf, $28.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-525-65485-8
In this sweeping and remarkably clear-eyed account, journalist Chayes (Thieves of State) explains how unethical behavior by high-ranking government officials and their associates has resulted in tremendous income inequality and the proliferation of radical policies that fail to serve average Americans. Chayes explains how Gilded Age robber barons including Andrew Carnegie, Jay Cooke, and J.P. Morgan established a reciprocal system of bribery, fraud, and wealth hoarding that still exists today, and details how the networks of contemporary “high rollers” such as the Koch Brothers and Jeffrey Epstein permeate the worlds of government, finance, and fine art. She demonstrates how these networks have changed the outcome of elections and tanked the economy, and how the individuals involved have consistently traded favors and bailed each other out of trouble. Citing the examples of Gilded Age anarchists, farmers, and laborers who fought back against economic and social inequities, Chayes urges readers to focus on local actions, including investigating corruption in their own communities, and to band together across political party lines to hold the powerful to account. Though tangents and florid metaphors occasionally disrupt the narrative, Chayes’s research dazzles. This intricate and impressive exposé will galvanize readers to take action. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/17/2020
Release date: 08/11/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-525-65486-5
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-525-56393-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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