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The US Edition

— Name, Title


After more than a decade working to understand kleptocracy overseas, and the disaster it spawns where it takes hold, I knew: it was time to train my lens on my own country.  This book is the result (and yes, it’s the same book, US and UK versions).  “Unflinching,” Knopf calls it.  “Blistering,” says Hurst.  


And indeed: it’s one thing to cop to the abstract idea that America is dominated by the same type of networks that run notoriously corrupt developing countries – in which public and private sectors, makers and super-rich takers and regulators, are woven together, with out-and-out-criminals.  


But it was painful to roll up my sleeves and grapple with that reality.

As I found in other countries, it is a reality that lies at the root of most of our crises: from repeated banking and stock market meltdowns and the unemployment and homelessness and desperation that result, to the disproportionately high toll of COVID sickness and death in this country, as well as the systematic mistreatment of black people and native nations and other subordinated groups.  



This book, like my others, goes beyond and beneath the usual chronicle of events.  You’ll also spend time with the mythical (and real) King Midas, of the golden touch, with Jesus, and with Joe Kennedy and other 19th and early 20th century kleptocrats, as well as the anarchists and farmers who fought them. 


You'll see how the post-1980 pattern mirrors the pattern back then.  And you’ll consider with me what we can do to stop this scourge before it destroys our country and the land and principles it stands on.

The UK Edition


How Corruption is Becoming America’s Operating System

Institute for New Economic Thinking

Interview by Lynn Parramore

October 1, 2020

Excerpt: What stunned me was the divergence between ordinary people’s understanding of corruption — basically, if it quacks like a duck… — and the unanimous view of elites across the political divide that corruption is something of minor consequence, beneath notice. The opinion, accepted by all eight justices, including the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, warned that America was in more danger from the fight against corruption than from corruption itself.



From the
Washington Post

...An ambitious book...takes on history, economics, politics, anthropology and more...None will be bored."


From NPR's Author Interviews

...Disasters that have come to define our lives. And this is a point you make in the book - how much corrupt behaviors on the part of a few people have shaped our lives.


...Sarah Chayes takes an unconventional look at money in America that results in a more accurate view than anything we’re used to.


From the American Interest...

A hydra is a mythological invention. And yet, as Sarah Chayes details in her new book, the myth bundles lessons that help illuminate the modern world in a way many of us have forgotten...


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