Book details

Foreign Agents

How American Lobbyists and Lawmakers Threaten Democracy Around the World

Author: Casey Michel

Foreign Agents

Foreign Agents

About This Book

A stunning investigation and indictment of the elements in United States' foreign lobbying industry and the threat they pose to democracy.

For years, one group of Americans...

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Book Details

A stunning investigation and indictment of the elements in United States' foreign lobbying industry and the threat they pose to democracy.

For years, one group of Americans has worked as foot-soldiers for the most authoritarian regimes around the planet. In the process, they've not only entrenched dictatorships and spread kleptocratic networks, but they've secretly guided U.S. policy without the rest of America even being aware. And now, journalist Casey Michel contends some of them have begun turning their sights on American democracy itself.

These Americans are known as foreign lobbyists, and many of them spent years ushering dictatorships directly into the halls of Washington, all while laundering the reputations of the most heinous, repressive regimes in the process. These lobbyists include figures like Ivy Lee, the inventor of the public relations industry - a man who whitewashed Mussolini, opened doors to the Soviets, and advised the Nazis on how to sway American audiences. They include people like Paul Manafort, who invented lobbying as we know it - and who then took his talents to autocrats from Ukraine to the Philippines, and then back to the White House. And they now include an increasing number of Americans elsewhere: in law firms and consultancies, among PR specialists and former lawmakers, and even within think tanks and universities.

Many of these lobbyists have transformed into proxies for dictators and strongmen wherever they can be found. And for years, they've escaped scrutiny.

In Foreign Agents, Casey Michel shines a light on these foreign lobbyists, and all the damage and devastation they have caused in Washington and elsewhere. From Moscow to Beijing, from far-right nationalists to far-left communists, from anti-American autocrats to pro-Western authoritarians, these foreign lobbyists have helped any illiberal, anti-democratic government they can find. And after decades of success in installing dictator after dictator, and in tilting American policy in the process, some of these lobbyists have now begun trying to end America's democratic experiment, once and for all.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

Foreign Policy, Most Anticipated Books of 2024

"For years, an entire class of Americans have secretly guided American foreign policy, while aiding dictators' spread of devastation around the world. Thanks to Michel’s brilliant Foreign Agents, we finally know who they are – and what they’ve done. This is an unprecedented and shocking look at the law firms, PR specialists, consultants, and former officials who’ve helped the enemies of democracy succeed." —Lt. Col. (Ret.) Alexander S. Vindman, author of Here, Right Matters

"Tracing illicit money and influence from 1930s Nazi Germany to the Trump administration, Casey Michel shines an urgent spotlight on the shadowy world of foreign lobbying and the damage to democracy perpetrated by the multi-billion dollar influence industry that has whitewashed the tainted reputations of autocrats and oligarchs, fascists and kleptocrats. Foreign Agents is a searing polemic against the culture of American foreign lobbying with the high-stakes twists and turns of a Hollywood thriller, written by a foremost authority on the matter." —Christopher Miller, author of The War Came to Us: Life and Death in Ukraine

Praise for American Kleptocracy:

"Casey Michel cuts through the spin, to reveal the inner workings of the American economy. His writing has shown again and again the subterfuges and secrecy at the heart of how money moves through the financial system, and does it with panache, wit, and a blessed aversion to jargon." —Oliver Bullough, author of the international bestseller Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats Who Rule the World

"The foremost journalistic voice in the fight against kleptocracy." —Paul Massaro, Congressional Policy Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission

"An indefatigable young American journalist who has virtually cornered the international kleptocracy beat on the US end of the black aquifer." —The Los Angeles Review of Books

"Brilliantly clear." —Anne Applebuam, The Atlantic

"Fluid, coherent and entertaining." —The Economist

"Michel masterfully recounts the tragicomic outcomes when outré autocrats meet serviceable financial and legal systems....deserve(s) praise for going beyond moralising and pointing out how an industry geared to enabling the corrupt is not just unsavoury but can hurt a country’s real economic prospects." —Financial Times

"Michel's diligent dissection is...a capable, eye-opening account of laissez faire financial laws and practices that serve the interest of criminals alone." —Kirkus Reviews

"Clearly-written, compelling and fast-paced...a clarion call for citizens and those at all levels of government who have not yet realized that we need to clean up our own act to protect ourselves from predatory adversaries."
—Fiona Hill, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

About the Creators

Foreign Agents

Foreign Agents