Jane Mayer – Dark Money:The Hidden History of Billionaires behind the rise of the radical right. Book Review

Dark Money: The Hidden History of Billionaires behind the rise of the radical right

Introduction and Summary

Jane Mayer, a long-term serving prolific staff writer, and journalist for the New Yorker, convincingly discusses the financial state capture that has ruined American politics for decades. Right from the first chapter of her book, “The Hidden History of Billionaires behind the rise of the radical right,”to the last, the author talks about the few selfish American billionaires who support the Republican Party in every election with an intention of earning more benefits in return. The book generates curiosity at first, but later on, it satisfies the reader’s urge to know more about American political affairs by providing realistic past occurrences that are measurable and exact. It is a preferred book for review in this course because of the author’s in-depth analysis of the filth in the Republican Party, and the way that the operations of a few billionaires affect the lives of millions of Americans.

For 25 years now, Jane Mayer has been working at the New Yorker covering mainly the political news. She is also known for investigative news that unearths the government’s weak sides and shady deals of the dignitaries in the political helm. Her main intention of writing the book, The Hidden History of Billionaires, is to expose the rot that has been deeply rooted in the current American political parties. By singling the Koch brothers and discussing more of how they interfere with American politics, Mayer informs the readers of the political privileges that wealthy Americans enjoy at the expense of the middle class and the poor in American society.

Analysis of the book

Mayer’s resourceful piece clearly defines American political power and forces behind such influences. The journalist narrates how the Koch brothers through their involvement in the political think tanks and the contribution of millions of dollars have ruined America’s democracy (Mayer, 2016). It is worth mentioning, however, that other political parties are not clean or saints when compared to the Republican Party. The non-fictional book exposes the real interest of these tycoons in every election that they are involved in. For that reason, the American political party donations have evolved into a scheme used by billionaires to negotiate for tax cuts and favorable laws that save them more money and give them more opportunity to earn cash in return.

She also sheds light on the American founding principles that are currently in jeopardy. The forefathers argued that the political power should emanate from the people and that the will of the majority should prevail at all costs. The meddling of a few people in the American political sphere, therefore, indicates that truly, the elections are not yet free and fair. The original meaning and intention of donations to the political parties have changed, and it is not about supporting the good agenda of the political party but serving the interests of some few individuals (Mayer, 2016). Mayer, therefore, talks about the hypocrisy currently present in the Republican Party, and how the elected leaders, right from the top leadership positions like the presidency, work hard every day to meet the demands of a few people who sponsored their campaigns during the electioneering period.

The book also captures well concepts such as civic engagement, activism, voting, and identity. The author argues that it is the right for every citizen to know why his/her vote is important. Interestingly, the massive campaigns led by the Republican Party and other political parties have lured the masses to believe exactly what the aspirants say. In most occasions, the public would not vote based on the party principles, but due to the beauty of campaign elements, bribery and showoff that has become the norm across all political parties. The wealthy tycoons have also bought think tanks and activities and on most occasions, they serve their masters who dictate what they share on social media platforms and campaign arenas. After reading Mayer’s book, it is unbelievable how dirty tricks have found a way into American politics.

Mayer uses simple-to-understand English to connect to the readers. Unlike other authors who often use technical terms in all their writings, this author captures the readers’ attention by using normal language to enable them to understand all the crucial points passed through her text. Her comprehensive analysis of the class inequality currently present in America is marvelous. In every part of the book, there must be one or two concepts that a reader can connect with. Additionally, she has arranged vital points in chapters to ease the reading and to make the readers glued to her reading.  Her text is, therefore, organized and appealing to readers. 

One of the notable quotes from the book states that “…it was March 16, 2013, and at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the heads of Washington’s most influential conservative think tanks – the closest thing the movement had to wise men or witch doctors – were gathered on one stage to diagnose how the election of 2012 had gone so wrong and deliver a cure…” (Mayer, 2016, p.337). This is a favorite quote because it exposes the role of rich elites in American politics. It shows that in every election period, there is a group of elites who try as much as possible that their preferred candidates get into power. Once their preferred individual is in power, they rest assured of various benefits such as upholding legislation that favors their businesses and lowering taxes for the wealthiest groups, not the American middle class. It is, therefore, a crucial quote for the topic too, because it highlights the deception and insincerity that has flocked the American political parties such as the Republican Party.


Overall, this resourceful and educative political book tells the rot that is currently embedded in the American political parties. At first, I thought of the book as a biased piece written by a democrat journalist to tarnish the name of the Republican party, but upon reading the book carefully, I appreciated the journalist’s effort in writing a detailed and informative piece that tells more about the current American political spheres. One thing that I liked about the book is its objective and robust narration of the current American politics. From the reading, more lessons are learned. One, the political elites control most of the American legislations. Two, the American political donations are in most cases selfish-driven to fulfill the interests of a few insincere business moguls. Third and lastly, the citizens need to read more of such books to get knowledge on how politics works, as this would help them in making more sound decisions during the election periods.


Mayer, J. (2016). The Hidden History of Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York, NY: Doubleday.

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