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About the Author

Sarah Kendzior is best known for her reporting on St. Louis and the 2016 election, her academic research on authoritarian states, and her New York Times bestselling debut, The View from Flyover Country. She is a cohost of the podcast Gaslit Nation and was named one of Foreign Policy's "100 people mostrar mais you should be following on Twitter to make sense of global events." Her reporting has been featured in Politico, The Atlantic, Fast Company, The New York Times. The Globe and Mail, and more. She lives in St. Louis. mostrar menos

Obras por Sarah Kendzior

Associated Works

Red State Blues: Stories from Midwestern Life on the Left (2018) — Contribuidor, algumas edições12 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



Great slam dunk on the Trump Administration for calling it what it actually is, but this authors constant self-appraisal is almost too much and I thought about putting it down more than once just because it was so cringy.
booksonbooksonbooks | 2 outras críticas | Jul 24, 2023 |
Great slam dunk on the Trump Administration for calling it what it actually is, but this authors constant self-appraisal is almost too much and I thought about putting it down more than once just because it was so cringy.
booksonbooksonbooks | 2 outras críticas | Jul 24, 2023 |
Good perspective on how we got to the Trump era.
cathy.lemann | 6 outras críticas | Mar 21, 2023 |
Sarah Kendzior never met a conditional tense she has any use for, it seems. Throughout They Knew, she never uses them. Readers will never come in contact with a would, should or could, a might or a may. There is no speculation, no competing theories, no hearing “from the other side.” Everything is clear and definite to her. The only appearance of the word would comes in her recap of what she predicted before Trump was sworn in. She accurately foresaw the dismantling of government and democracy, and the invasion of the thugs, oligarchs and Mafiosi associated with Trump. (They actually live in Trump Tower, she points out.) It makes the book enormously powerful, clear-headed and convincing. There is no waffling; America has been sold to the lowest bidder for the highest profit.

The book begins with a big lie – no not that one. It is the story of an Arkansas criminal named Norman Baker who operated a renowned cancer clinic a hundred years ago. He vacuumed up the life savings of the dying, pretending he had a cure for them. He invented his own liquid medicine he mixed, built a sanatorium where he stored his victims, and hired aggressive lawyers to fight off all challenges. He kept lying, and it kept working. The bigger the lie, the more Americans accepted it. Applying this lesson to today, Kendzior says “truth (is) an increasingly worthless currency in the land of the conned and complicit.” That sets the tone for a litany of betrayals every reader will relate to. They Knew will touch everyone.

Kendzior explains some of the tools used by the rich and powerful in new terms. For example, critical race theory (CRT). There is no theory in CRT. But a lot of American school systems are banning the teaching of CRT because of that word. CRT adds relevant racial dimensions to American history. To forbid its teaching is to forbid history, a perfect goal for a school system. But couching the ban in terms of race theory, gives CRT the appearance of fiction and not fact, making it okay and even desirable to ban. It is a fraud, but constantly repeating it has made it a common and accepted truth. In America, you can poison anything by calling it a theory.

This is a standard ploy, called conditioning. If you say something often enough, people get used to it, even if it is totally outrageous. No one knows this better than Donald Trump. People soon begin to accept it, because everyone is talking about it. And when the awful and expected results appear, those people are then ready to say it was inevitable. There was just no way to stop it, they agree. It’s how America got the war in Iraq, climate change denial, and of course the stolen election of 2020, which polls show continues to increase in belief. Still, two years later.

Conditioning is also seen in elected representatives totally ignoring the voters. They vote money to their friends. They shield each other from legal harm. They grandstand for popular issues they have no intention of allowing to see the light of day. They enrich themselves mightily along the way. And none of it has the blessing of the people who put them in power. “They know how infiltration becomes impunity and then immunity,” she says in another of her particular ways of looking at the world. Persistence pays.

Kendzior has a terminology problem. She has an issue with conspiracy theories. Because while most recognize conspiracy theories as wild and idiotic, Kendzior has a theory, and it happens to incorporate a global conspiracy. Clearly she does not want to be lumped in with the Pizzagate people, the blood libel people, the 2000 mules people and the climate change deniers. So she spends a lot of time explaining the differences between conspiracies and conspiracy theories. It’s the weakest part of the otherwise powerhouse book she has written.

Her theory comes out of the stories in this book. She has lots of investigative stories to tell, and a lot of the same names keep popping up. Ultimately, she cannot deny the obvious – this is no coincidence. She calls out Trump as leading a transnational crime syndicate, aiding Russian criminals and having them fund his organizations. She names names, gives examples, and shows the threats, both to democracy and to the USA itself. She says these criminals are perfectly willing to split up the USA and sell the pieces for their own profit. The country is just merchandise. Its people are just worthless. Anything that doesn’t produce huge windfalls in the short term is not worth bothering with. Healthcare, environment and such are clear examples to her. “All conspiracy theories are debatable, except one: the American government will absolutely leave its citizens to die,” she comes to realize in another dramatic insight.

She likens her research discoveries to a gigantic octopus. Its tentacles reach into every sector. It compromises everyone it comes in contact with. It connects the billionaires, oligarchs, generals, diplomats, politicians, gangsters, murderers and thieves. No one can escape its suckers, and it will ultimately destroy society and severely cripple the earth. For Kendzior, the octopus is the ultimate conspiracy, and she thinks of it as verifiable fact, not theory.

The book is peppered with ugly stories of people who attempt to understand what is actually going on, and end up dead – by sudden, unanticipated suicide, the courts always seem to rule. My favorite is the man who blew his brains out – twice. Then there’s the man who hanged himself from a tree – with his hands tied behind his back. Clearly suicide. This was demonstrated again more recently by the alleged suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, whose potential plea deal with prosecutors could have linked hundreds of politicians and diplomats to a sex and pedophile network he ran with Ghislaine Maxwell, a very well connected family itself. Any such deal could simply not be risked. To Kendzior, it is also proof that the media don’t simply grab headlines and run with the story for fame and profit. The Epstein story was minimized and dropped as soon as he died, denying the public any conclusion at all. In other words, they knew. They are all complicit, from the foreign media barons running the US press to the extraordinarily wealthy (civil service) diplomats who rape their countries (The leadership of the DRCongo recently proclaimed (July 2022) it is not there to protect the environment. Everything is for sale for the right deal).

It is also the logic behind the USA’s seeming inability to convict or even charge elites with crimes. That Donald Trump is still flying around, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars for his “charity”, rather than defending himself in numerous trials for sedition, tax evasion, emoluments, and sex crimes, is testament enough. And it is nothing new. Not one banker paid the price for the global Financial Crisis of 2008. Intel Corp. has extorted tens of billions from the government by threatening to build new semiconductor plants elsewhere. Trump’s cabinet famously sought to dismantle their portfolios rather than manage them, despite their sworn oaths. Global criminals like Henry Kissinger are awarded the Nobel Prize – for Peace.

It is clear to Kendzior that elected officials have a real master to attend to, and it is not the voting public: “Elected officials no longer attempt to win you over, they attempt to rewrite laws and district boundaries so that your vote is irrelevant. Their true constituency is the criminal elite.” It is sadly refreshing to see it put that way.

On the bright side, if there is one: “What does unite Americans, (…) is rage at elite criminal impunity. We may not revolt as one, but we are revolted as one, e pluribus nauseam.”

Kendzior points to Robert Mueller, who refused to consider Trump’s Russian business dealings (financing, the Miss Universe contest of 1988, residency/housing for oligarchs, ….) in his “investigation” pre-impeachment. That he would not nail Trump was a foregone conclusion, as he had done the same thing earlier in another case. It was obvious to people like Kendzior that is why Mueller was chosen in the first place. (When asked in 2008 if the new Financial Crisis would harm the Trump Organization, Eric Trump blurted out No, that all the Trump money comes from Russia, not the USA. For some reason it has never been a factor in any investigation since. I have often wondered why.) Had Mueller followed any of the leads, it would have opened a criminal investigation impossibly wide and deep, the likes of which have never been seen. It would have taken down thousands of top players. Kendzior says “an epidemic of disillusionment and distrust so vast it stretches into paralysis” is the daily state of the nation. The USA is a corrupt crime organization.

How could it be any other way when “Watergate, Iran-Contra, the CIA’s MK Ultra mind control experiments, the aborted 1960s false flag Operation Northwoods, and other US government plots were all, at some point, labeled wild conspiracy theories—until they were investigated and proven real.” She adds that the Republican Party has refashioned itself as an apocalyptic death cult, in yet another customized turn of phrase she flings out regularly.

Overall, Kendzior thinks things have gotten much worse. Since the onset of the pandemic, she says Americans look back at “economic decline, rising autocracy, rampant gun violence, disinformation warfare, climate catastrophes, systemic racism and endemic corruption” as the good old days. Corruption is so widespread and generalized that it is now expected, mentioned in passing, and accepted without consequence. The stories abound, but there is almost never an arrest, a charge, a trial or a conviction. This is the new way in the USA. The transnational octopus of greed and corruption has won.

But I have to say, this can easily be covered by one concept – globalization. The freeing of capital to cross borders with a keystroke at will, combined with realtime communications has enabled the spread of corruption like wildfire. It has upped the potential from the millions of dollars to the billions – a one thousand-fold increase. Twelve to 20 trillion dollars have been hidden in offshore trusts alone. Kendzior does not go there, but this is really a capitalism problem, not an octopus problem.

As a result of the continual decline of government services or even competence, she says “Covid is but a prelude for how states will handle the era of catastrophic climate change.” For the elites, the entire population is disposable. She points to Dr. Fauci, who first mismanaged the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, being put in charge of the even more massive Covid pandemic as typical of uncaring elites running the country into the ground. It is too early to even imagine how badly the country will manage environmental disasters. But all indicators point to new lows.

Possibly worst of all is her concern the country is undergoing conditioning for a breakup. All the talk of civil war, the conversation around how geographic entities play out in a split country – lead her to conclude this is coming and will be considered the inevitable result of the red/blue irreconcilable split.

Kendzior’s gift is perspective. She can see the bigger, far more complex picture where the news media see only unrelated incidents. She is straightforward, clear-thinking and persuasive. She does the original research and is sure of her facts. The only thing missing is how she gets up every morning, knowing this just like “they” do.

David Wineberg
… (mais)
3 vote
DavidWineberg | 2 outras críticas | Sep 8, 2022 |



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