Thieves Of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

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Thieves Of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

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Originally posted Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:55 pm -- 26 views before being transplanted here.

Reading Liberally Editorial Note = This proposal came from Tucker Gurney, a retired U/U Biology Professor and wife of Ted Gurney, another retired U/U biology professor and long-time Reading Liberally regular. It had to be posted by “solutions” because our bulletin-board software is outdated at the moment, which means that it is impossible to register new users.

I, Tucker Gurney, propose Sarah Chayes’ “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security” (W.W. Norton & Co. 1/19/2015 -- available from your local library or from for $20.31 + shipping or $12.99 Kindle -- 272 pages).

Book Review Excerpts

"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)

“Makes a strong case that acute corruption causes not only social breakdown but also violent extremism… 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.” (Giles Foden - New York Times Book Review)

“I can't imagine a more important book for our time. With a novelist's fine sense of drama, Chayes has written about one of the most crucial issues at hand: the startlingly obvious—and entirely overlooked—connection between deep corruption and civil violence. Not only is this book a pleasure to read, it has a brilliant and urgent message about our world.” (Sebastian Junger)

“Thieves of State is a revolutionary book. It upends our understanding of the sources of violent extremism on its head, arguing that the governments we have been relying on to fight terrorism are themselves one of its most potent and insidious sources. Sarah Chayes weaves together history, adventure, political analysis, personal experience, culture, and religion in a shimmering and compelling tapestry.” (Anne-Marie Slaughter)


Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen -- “Sarah Chayes brilliantly illuminates a topic no one wants talk about -- but we must. Corruption is an insidious force that is causing some of the most dangerous challenges our world is facing. It has to be at the core of America’s strategies, engagements and relationships for the twenty-first century.”

Former Head of U.S. Special Operations Command Admiral Eric Olson -- “This is an essential and very readable book about an explosive topic. In a stunning and compelling argument, Sarah Chayes transforms our understanding of the ugly reality behind sustained terrorism and other threats around the globe. She writes with an authenticity born of on-the-ground, in-the-markets and at-the-headquarters experiences that are unmatched by any other American.”

Author Biography (prepared by John Karls)

Sarah Chayes is a Senior Associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

After earning a B.A. Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in History (receiving the Radcliffe History Prize), she served in the Peace Corps in Morocco before returning to Harvard for her M.A. in History, specializing in the Medieval Islamic period.

From 1996-2002, she served as the Paris reporter for NPR, covering France, the E.U., North Africa and the Balkans. She earned the 1999 Foreign Press Club award for her reporting on the Kosovo War.

She then left journalism to live 2002-2009 (and part-time through 2011) in Kandahar, the Afghan heartland of the Taliban, to try to contribute to the rebuilding of the war-torn country. In 2005, she founded a small manufacturing cooperative, which produces high-quality natural skin-care products from licit local agriculture.

A prolific author, in addition to Thieves of State two other seminal works are The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (2007) and Comprehensive Action Plan for Afghanistan (2009). An archive of her current writings can be found on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website.

Sarah Chayes is the daughter of the late Harvard International Law Professor Abram Chayes, and of lawyer and former Undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force Antonia Handler Chayes. [NB: Abram Chayes took a leave of absence from Harvard Law School to serve as a legal adviser to President Kennedy’s State Department, where he worked on the 1961 Berlin Crisis, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty.]

Full disclosure = Yours Truly was one of Abram Chayes’ students.

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