In a 2010 profile of the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, the New Yorker writer Jane Mayer described how, from 2005 to 2008, the brothers had vastly outspent ExxonMobil in financing organizations that fight legislation aimed at curbing climate change. Their company, the conglomerate Koch Industries, was also listed as one of the top 10 air polluters in the country, she wrote.
She wrote about the brothers again in 2013, focusing on David Koch’s efforts to influence coverage at a public television station, one of several to which they had donated money. The article prompted a lengthy, scathing rebuttal on the Koch company website, which accused Ms. Mayer of distorting the facts.
Ms. Mayer is undeterred, apparently. Her coming book, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” explores how a network of deep-pocketed conservatives — foremost among them the Koch brothers — are seeking to fundamentally reshape American politics.
“She digs up documents people want to keep secret; she writes clear and powerful narratives about events others try to obfuscate; she gets sources to talk even when they’re afraid to,” said Bill Thomas, the publisher and editor in chief of Doubleday. “I thought I understood the last 30 years of American political history until I read this book.”
The book, which Doubleday will publish in January, could scarcely be timelier. It will land during a heated presidential primary season that has prompted a national debate about issues like income inequality, tax reform and the regulation of businesses.
In January, the Koch brothers’ political and philanthropic network, backed by hundreds of like-minded donors, revealed plans to spend $889 million in the nearly two years leading up to the 2016 election.
Ms. Mayer has been a co-author of books about Ronald Reagan and about the controversial appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Her 2008 book “The Dark Side,” about the use of torture as an interrogation technique in America’s counterterrorism efforts, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Ms. Mayer spent five years researching the new book. She interviewed hundreds of sources and unearthed confidential documents related to efforts that illustrate how donors within the network have funneled their fortunes to promote a political agenda of cutting corporate taxes, dismantling environmental regulations and reducing government oversight of corporations.
The Koch brothers declined to be interviewed for “Dark Money,” and a spokesman for the Kochs declined to comment on the book’s premise.