James McNamara reviews 'Dark Money: The hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right' by Jane Mayer

James McNamara reviews 'Dark Money: The hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right' by Jane Mayer

Dark Money: The hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right

by Jane Mayer

Scribe, $35 pb, 464 pp, 9781925321715

When I arrived in America, green card in hand, I soon got down to my favourite pastime: discussing politics over grain-based liquor. I was surprised to find that President Barack Obama was widely reviled. I had spent the previous decade in England and Australia where, in my experience, Obama was considered a decent president or, at least, a decent man. Not, it would seem, in the United States.

That opinions could so differ between Western nations was partly attributable to the radicalisation of American politics in the Obama era. From their first leadership meeting after Obama's election, Republicans mounted an unprecedented 'guerilla war' against his presidency. Denying any Democratic victory was more important than governing. This extremist shift, Jane Mayer argues in Dark Money, reflects a sophisticated, multi-decade effort by a small group of billionaires to inject radical right-wing views into the political mainstream. This might sound a bit Bond villain, but Mayer, a veteran New Yorker journalist, proves her case through masterful investigative reporting.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

James McNamara

James McNamara

James McNamara was born in Western Australia in 1982. He holds degrees in English and Law from the University of Western Australia, a doctorate in English from Oxford, and graduated in screenwriting from AFTRS. He is the recipient ABR's third Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship for his essay 'The Golden Age of Television?'. He currently works in television.

Published in October 2016, no. 385