As a corruption investigation into President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is underway, here are three books that delve into the history and consequences of political misconduct in the United States.
CORRUPTION IN AMERICA
From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United
By Zephyr Teachout
376 pp. Harvard University Press. (2014)
In this book, Teachout, a Fordham University Law professor and one-time candidate for governor of New York, makes the case that throughout this country’s history, lawmakers have gone to great lengths to divide the personal from the political. Teachout notes, for instance, that when Benjamin Franklin was the United States’ ambassador to France and, during one of his visits, received a diamond-studded snuffbox, there was concern that the gift would sway his politics. In her view, Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on political spending by corporations, has compromised that work. Our reviewer wrote: “You have probably heard pundits say we are living in an age of ‘legalized bribery’; ‘Corruption in America’ is the book that makes their case in careful detail.”
The Corruption of the American Republic
By David Frum
301 pp. HarperCollins. (2018)
Frum, a writer for The Atlantic, places the Trump administration and the current struggles of the white working class in context. In this book, he argues that any corruption within President Trump’s administration is a symptom of a system in which political figures have been able to leverage their political influence for financial gain. Similarly, the white working class’s current predicament is a natural result of an unequal economic system in which a small group of companies and industries hold most of the country’s wealth. According to our reviewer, “Frum has been writing sharp but sympathetic books” about conservative America for more than two decades, and he calls this is an “excellent” addition.
The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
By Jane Mayer
449 pp. Doubleday. (2016)
This “impressively reported and well-documented work,” as described in our review, focuses on the influence the Koch brothers and other financiers have had on politics over several decades. Though David Koch never pursued public office after running for vice president in 1980, he and his brother, Charles, have contributed vast amounts of money to campaigns, think tanks, media groups and academic institutions aligned with their conservative views. Mayer, a staff writer for The New Yorker, delves into the Koch family’s past, including how they made their fortune and the influences that shaped their beliefs. Neither of the Koch brothers agreed to be interviewed for the book, but Mayer draws from hundreds of other interviews to illuminate how they and other plutocrats have infiltrated politics.
News credit : Nytimes