Townhouse Books

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Informant: Kurt Eichenwald

One of my favorite This American Life episodes, called "The Fix is In," tells the convoluted true story of how the government in the early 1990s brought down a price-fixing conspiracy at the huge food and ingredient company Archer Daniels Midland, as well as various international companies. The FBI was originally alerted to this, almost by accident, by a top executive at ADM named Mark Whitacre. For years after their initial meeting, Whitacre made secret video and audio tapes of his co-workers and of these price fixing meetings for the FBI. Unfortunately, although Whitacre was telling the truth about the price fixing, he was also a nutjob constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown who lied constantly and fancied himself a character in a John Grisham novel. Fascinating!

If you haven't already listened to the This American Life episode, you must. It's really great. If you listen to it and dig it, you may want to check out the book too then. The author did an impressive job of presenting a mammoth amount of information in a clear and still suspenseful way.

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