Reviews - Thieves of State
“The target of her zeal is government corruption around the world — an old challenge but one she recasts in urgent and novel terms.”
- Carlos Lozada, Washington Post
“Entirely unique… cogent and fascinating.”
- Joel Whitney, San Francisco Chronicle
"For anyone confused by how the world ended up in such a state, I would strongly recommend Sarah Chayes’s book."
--Oliver Bullough, The Telegraph
“An important book... about how government corruption helped turn Afghans away from us and from the pro-U.S. Afghan regime”
Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times
"This is an important book that should be required reading for officials in foreign service, and for those working in commerce or the military. The story will interest the nonspecialist reader too "
-By Giles Foden, New York Times
Drop whatever you're doing and read this book
This is an extremely important book. Unlike most extremely important books, it is well written and not inflated with how extremely important it is. Chayes has laid out a very convincing argument, marshaling evidence from throughout the world and across history, for her thesis. Again unlike most books that set forth an underrated case, she freely and frequently admits that the issue she has identified is not the only cause of the problem. What she says is that we need to pay more attention to the role of corruption in the recruitment and retention of terrorists of all stripes, that it will not do to put up with kleptocratic regimes because we think that in the short term they are less awful than whoever we are currently afraid of, and that we are betraying not only others but ourselves when we do so. She does this without hectoring, but instead with careful and thoughtful presentation of evidence. So, not only a dandy idea, but a dandy book about the idea--a lamentably rare combination.
By Michele R. Kenton September 8, 2015
An important book on a provocative theme. Chayes, drawing on her years of experience in Afghanistan and elsewhere, argues persuasively that the United States cannot achieve its foreign policy goals by working through partner governments so corrupt that they repel their own citizens. She also exposes the contradictions that occur as different agencies try to accomplish specific goals through corrupt instruments. My favorite story in the book tells oft a slam-dunk corruption prosecution in Afghanistan that was shut down suddenly without an explanation, undermining the whole anti-corruption effort. It turned out that, unbeknownst to the corruption fighters, the apparently minor official was a bagman transmitting money between the CIA and the highest levels of the Afghan government. Having spent a career as a U.S. diplomat, I found that to be all too credible - and depressing… I used this book as a class reading for my adult-education seminar in foreign policy. It was well-liked by all the participants and led to a lively discussion in class.
ByX-Diplo on August 6, 2015
Sarah Chayes compellingly discusses how the corrupt practices of governments and authorities spawn violent reactionary movements that undermine the security and stability of societies. Chayes’s voice is strong and confident, her prose is taut, fact-rich, and colorful, sometimes passionate but never indulgent. The book is intelligent and well-researched and refreshingly accessible, with a strong narrative current to draw the reader along. More than that, this is an important book, one with the potential to alter the discussion and--one may hope--the U. S. government’s approach to diplomacy and national security issues.
By Deborah O'Keeffe on January 26, 2015
...this book is a must read for policy makers who have yet to conduct a critical evaluation of the impact of strategic alliances with corrupt governments, and whether they have increased not lessoned our risk.
- By Kirk E. Meyer on January 26, 2015
From the first page, I was hooked—this is a book that succeeds in both entertaining and informing its readers. Thank you, Ms. Chayes, for speaking up on a topic that is all-too-often overlooked.
- By Molly on January 28, 2015
Must Read. Must Read. MUST READ.
This is one of those books that introduces a new idea and we say to ourselves, "Why didn't I think of that--it's so obvious (after the fact)".
Read in one sitting engaging and very relevant makes complex very clear with illuminating examples must read to know how and where our own gov are taking us. Get it read it. You will not regret it.
Must Read!! Answers my questions about the results of U.S. billions and bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan
Most important book of the year. One of the very few book that I wish I could give more than 5 stars. It is really two books, a incisive and persuasive account of how corruption and the resulting social dysfunction endangers the entire world, and the story of a brilliant, brave and dedicated human being, the author Sarah Chayes.
-By A. K. Berg, February 20, 2015
A five star book on Amazon.com
Reviews from Amazon.com:
THE NATION • NOVEMBER 24, 2015
Looking for Kabul-Style Corruption? Try K Street.
You don't have to travel across the ocean to find widespread corruption, extortion and bribery. By Rebecca Gordon
…Every now and then, a book changes the way you see the world. It’s like shaking a kaleidoscope and suddenly all the bits and pieces fall into a new pattern. Sarah Chayes’s Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security shook my kaleidoscope. (read more)
MYNORTH NEWS SERVICE • October 12, 2015
Q&A: Sarah Chayes at Traverse City National Writers Series
E-International Relations • SEP 30 2015
Interview - Sarah Chayes
Whole governments have become structured around the objective of maximizing private returns to their members. In effect, they are not fragile or failing governments so much as successful criminal organizations…
Christian Science Monitor • Difference Maker
Sarah Chayes battles a worldwide scourge: deep-rooted corruption
The former reporter and social entrepreneur in Afghanistan is now trying to bring about a sea change in US foreign policy.
By Eva Fedderly, Contributor AUGUST 13, 2015
The International News • Opinion
Rich, privileged and in power
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
The Washington Diplomat
Afghanistan Expert Says Corruption Breeds Violence, Steals Stability
By Michael Coleman, July 29, 2015
Guernica • Global Kleptocracy
Daniela Petrova interviews Sarah Chayes
July 15, 2015
The foreign policy expert on global corruption, violent extremism, and how the West “has lost the balance between rectitude and liberty.”
“Acute government corruption may in fact lie at the root of some of the world’s most dangerous and disruptive security challenges—among them the spread of violent extremism,” argues Sarah Chayes, author of the recent book Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.
Foreign Affairs • Capsule Review
May/June 2015 Issue
Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security
Reviewed by G. John Ikenberry
"…Chayes refers to classic political thinkers—Machiavelli, most notably—to make an essential and somewhat more optimistic point: corruption is the natural temptation of rulers, but it is often what ultimately brings them down."
Post Independent • CitizenTelegram
April 17, 2015
Corruption fuels religious extremism
by Mary Boland
We in the U.S. suffer from a misguided view that the way to fight anything we dislike — crime, drugs, terrorism — is to declare war on it and use either police or military force against it. At the same time, we almost totally ignore the underlying political and economic causes of these diseases.
Corporate Crime Reporter
April 8th, 2015
Sarah Chayes on Ashraf Ghani Transparency International and Thieves of State
Sarah Chayes has written a new book — Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (Norton, 2015), in which she argues corruption is a driving force behind many of the social upheavals around the world today.
How Corruption Kills the Promise of Social Enterprise
by Marta Maretich, March 23rd, 2015
In her new book, Thieves of State, journalist, social entrepreneur and anti-corruption activist Sarah Chayes takes the case against corruption into new territory. She argues that, not only is corruption bad for the marketplace, it actually generates violent extremism and poses a direct threat to global security.
La corruption, terreau du terrorisme?
Les Echos March 9 2015
Les théoriciens des relations internationales décrivent le népotisme, les extorsions et autres détournements de fonds comme une conséquence de la faiblesse des Etats…
‘Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security’, by Sarah Chayes: On tour with kleptocrats and their cronies
by Tom Burgis
March 8, 2015
STRUCTURELE CORRUPTIE ONTKETENT RANCUNEUZE WOEDE DIE EXTREMISME IN DE HAND WERKT,
by Freke Vuijst
March 4, 2015
How bribes create terrorists
By Kevin Hartnett
February 3, 2015
What stokes terrorism? There are lots of explanations, many of which focus on macro forces, like the politics of fundamentalist Islam and the uneven distribution of rewards in market economy. This past Friday at the Boston Athenaeum, Sarah Chayes offered a surprisingly different explanation: Terrorism, she argued, is an outgrowth of the daily humiliations that arise in corrupt countries.
The New Yorker
Corruption and Revolt
Does tolerating graft undermine national security?
BY PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE
JANUARY 19, 2015 ISSUE
“Chayes develops a muscular new vocabulary for talking about the problem of corruption. Good governance is often construed as an essentially humanitarian preoccupation, a civil-society concern that is forever trumped by more pressing strategic obligations. But Chayes became convinced that in Afghanistan kleptocratic rule was actually “manufacturing Taliban,” providing fodder for the expanding insurgency. In unstable and potentially explosive places…, she argues, the dilemma of corruption is not, as it might appear, one in which American values and interests are in tension. Even a hard-nosed realist should regard corruption as a dire concern, she maintains, because it is not merely a matter of the rule of law and democratic principles – it is a “matter of national security.” This is the real intellectual innovation of Chayes’s book: she takes what has always been the losing position in policy debates and imbues it with a new rhetorical power.”
How corruption abroad threatens U.S. national security
LOS ANGELES TIMES
November 29, 2014
"Chayes, whose writing frequently appears on these pages, has written a new book, “Thieves of State,” that makes a persuasive case that corruption harms U.S. national security interests in at least two ways: It makes it easier for insurgent movements to win support among aggrieved citizens. And it makes U.S.-friendly governments incapable of defending themselves against insurgents, criminal cartels and even foreign invaders."