Sarah Chayes’s remarkable trajectory has led her from reporting from Paris for National Public Radio and covering the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan to opening a soap factory in downtown Kandahar in the midst of a reigniting insurgency. She has advised the topmost levels of the U.S. military, serving as special adviser to two commanders of the international forces in Kabul and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. She recently completed a five-year tenure at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance program.
Sarah is internationally recognized for her innovative thinking on corruption. Her work has explored how severe and structured corruption can prompt international crises such as revolutions, violent insurgency and environmental devastation, and how it is the primary threat to democracy. Her current work analyzes the implications of today’s hyper-monetized society in which money has become the dominant measure of social achievement, and the need for the restoration of societal values.
She is the author of the prize-winning THIEVES OF STATE: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, THE PUNISHMENT OF VIRTUE: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, and the forthcoming KLEPTOCRACY IN AMERICA (Knopf, 2020) – a new book about corruption in the United States which brings to light alarming parallels between our government and kleptocratic systems overseas.
Sarah’s writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Foreign Policy and Defense One. She is the recipient of Foreign Press Club and Sigma Delta Chi awards.
Speaking topics include the global epidemic of corruption; global security; America’s path towards kleptocracy; the history of money and its modern social significance; ethics in business; corporate compliance and social responsibility.
“Every now and then, a book changes the way you see the world. It’s like shaking a kaleidoscope and suddenly all the bits and pieces fall into a new pattern. Sarah Chayes’s Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security shook my kaleidoscope.” – Rebecca Gordon, The Nation
“I can’t imagine a more important book for our time.” – Sebastian Junger
“Sarah Chayes weaves together history, adventure, political analysis, personal experience, culture, and religion in a shimmering and compelling tapestry.” – Anne-Marie Slaughter
“Sarah Chayes provides a vivid, ground-level view on how pervasive corruption undermines U.S. foreign policy and breeds insurgency. Thieves of State provides critical lessons that all policymakers should heed.” – Francis Fukuyama
“[A] fascinating story. . . .Chayes argues, convincingly, [that state-sanctioned larceny is] a threat not just to Afghanistan’s national security but to that of the United States.” -Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker
“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.” – Admiral (ret.) Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Books, Films & Projects
Integrity 20 Conference
TEDxFultonStreet: How Government Corruption is a Precursor to Extremism
Sarah Chayes talks with Richard Engel about Donald Trump's tolerance of corruption in other countries and how that reflects on the United States.
Sarah Chayes speaks with Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump's business with corrupt foreign governments.
Filmmakers Steven Soderbergh and Scott Burns talk about their new movie, The Laundromat, and the book that guided them – Sarah Chayes’s THIEVES OF STATE – in this episode of Vanity Fair’s podcast.