A multigenerational saga of two families who rose from immigrant roots to the pinnacle of U.S. power that tracks the unraveling of American democracy.
In American Oligarchs, award-winning investigative journalist Andrea Bernstein creates a vivid portrait of two emblematic American families. Their journey to the White House is a story of survival and loss, crime and betrayal, which stretches from the Gilded Age through Nazi-occupied Poland to the rising nationalism and inequality of the twenty-first century.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews and over 100,000 pages of documents, many previously unseen or long forgotten, Bernstein traces how the families grew rich on federal programs that bolstered the middle class, and then sheltered their wealth from tax collectors. Wielding half-truths, secrecy, and media manipulation, they blurred the lines between public and private interests, then leveraged political, prosecutorial, and judicial power to avoid legal consequences. At once intimate and sweeping, American Oligarchs reveals how these dynasties encouraged and profited from a system of political dark money that has pushed America to the precipice of oligarchy.
About the Author
ANDREA BERNSTEIN is the Peabody and duPont-Columbia Award-winning cohost of the acclaimed WNYC/ProPublica podcast Trump, Inc. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and New York magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Anyone concerned about American democracy should read Andrea Bernstein’s devastating exposé of the Trump and Kushner families. With meticulous precision, she documents the pernicious effects of dynastic wealth and power, now threatening to turn the highest rungs of the US government into a corrupt oligarchy.—Jane Mayer, The New Yorker staff writer and New York Times best-selling author of Dark Money
A sweeping story of two American families, which shows that both the Trumps and the Kushners made their fortunes—often with government money. How did these ‘self-made men’ really get made? With donations, favors, intimidation and other people’s money. Nobody really beats city hall. The winners buy it, as Bernstein shows.—David Fahrenthold, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist at the Washington Post
Riveting! Andrea Bernstein deftly tracks the history of the Trump and Kushner families from their roots through their immigration to the United States and their progression up through the socioeconomic ranks. American Oligarchs is comprehensive, brilliantly written, filled with detail and suspense—it reads like a financial thriller. —A. M. Homes, prize-winning author of Days of Awe and This Book Will Save Your Life
Andrea Bernstein masterfully chronicles the sordid narrative that is the American reality. What elevates her book isn't just her gobsmacking tale of these two families; it's that she illuminates the contours of the system that brought us their corrupt reign.—Franklin Foer, staff writer at the Atlantic and author of World Without Mind
Bernstein…offers a precise and damning dissection of the systems of power that have gotten us where we are now…[American Oligarchs] is a work of great reporting. —Tayla Zax, Forward
A rich and highly readable compendium…Bernstein is an intrepid reporter.—William Cohan, New York Times Book Review
By building American Oligarchs around the Kushner and Trump family narratives, Bernstein offers readers a fresh perspective.... Readers who follow the news more casually will also find the epic family tales a compelling way to understand the myriad deals and ambitions that define the Kushners and Trumps. —David Kocieniewski, Bloomberg.com
A meticulous deep dive.—Lloyd Green, Guardian