DUPONT: Behind the Nylon Curtain by Gerard Colby Zilg

DUPONT: Behind the Nylon Curtain

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Aunt Zadie and Aunt Ethyl were the only non-reactionaries in the DuPont family up through the 1930's, and they were corporatists. Zilg shows how the DuPont powder barons of Delaware have profited comfortably in every war; until 1895, for example, they sold defective Civil War explosives. Routinely stealing patents, killing hundreds in the mills, and using prison slave labor on their Indonesian holdings, the DuPonts reinvested their loot in General Motors, United Fruit, U.S. Steel, U.S. Rubber and a pile of other interests, as the book documents, while discreetly helping finance illegal German rearmament under the guidance of Allen Dulles. (They thought Hitler had the right idea.) Zilg seems to believe that the DuPonts petered out after a 1962 anti-trust ruling, but this material indicates that they simply make use of foundations, trusts, and the like. The book is preoccupied with the family qua family -- their internecine struggles, colorful peculations from each other, dynastic beliefs, and ordinary debauchery. Zilg does not indicate the contemporary DuPont impact on world affairs, though their heavy stake in chemicals, oil refining and fertilizers is topical, to say the least. Consequently, the muckrake remains less damaging to the family than Zilg might like to believe, and less valuable than its counterpart, The Arms of Krupp (1968) by William Manchester.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1974
Publisher: Prentice-Hall