Sarah Chayes’s remarkable trajectory has led her from reporting on the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan for National Public Radio, to opening a soap factory in Kandahar in the midst of a reigniting insurgency, to advising the topmost levels of the U.S. military.
Sarah is an internationally recognized expert on corruption in government networks throughout the world, and is one of the architects of America’s foreign anti-corruption policy. She has served as special adviser to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and two commanders of the international forces in Kabul, Generals David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal.
She has been a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance program, where her work explored how severe and structured corruption can prompt international crises such as revolutions, violent insurgency and environmental devastation. 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.
Sarah is the author of THE PUNISHMENT OF VIRTUE: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, THIEVES OF STATE: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security – the L.A. Times Book Prize winner that inspired Steven Soderbergh’s recent film, The Laundromat – and the forthcoming ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA: And What Is at Stake (August 4, Knopf).
ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA draws alarming parallels between some of the most corrupt countries in the world and our own. It exposes the tradition of systemic corruption from America’s Gilded Age through present day, how it affects every level of society and threatens the future of democracy.
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; kleptocracy in America; the modern “value” of money; 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.