The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald
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The Informant

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,911 ratings  ·  424 reviews
A page-turning true story of international scandal and corruption at the very highest levels of corporate America, this thriller unveils botched crimes, courtroom drama, suicide attempts, and an immense tangle of lies and deception.
Paperback, 629 pages
Published July 3rd 2001 by Broadway Books (first published August 28th 2000)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Howard
Once upon a time, I stumbled onto this book on the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble. Since it cost practically nothing and looked mildly interesting, I bought it. It went in my TBR bookcase where it languished for years. Oh, occasionally I would pick it up, blow the dust away and read the blurbs and think that it looked mildly interesting, and then place it back on the shelf.

Not long ago, while looking for something to read I picked it up again, blew the dust off and thought, this looks mildly in
...more
Lisa
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I attended a continuing legal education event a week ago, at which the author of this book and one of the FBI agents from the book spoke about the case. I left the event determined to read the book straight away - and in any event, before the movie comes out next year.

I had known of this book for some time, and was generally aware it concerned the ADM antitrust price-fixing trial. But I had thought, wrongly as it turned out, that the book was about the trial. In fact, the trial is relegated to
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I can understand why a movie was made of 'The Informant' by Kurt Eichenwald! This FBI/Department of Justice case is very bizarre! Eichenwald, a New York Times reporter at the time, followed the true story for years. Initially, it was all about a typical white-collar price-fixing crime involving top-level respectable and powerful company executives. However, the whistleblower Mark Whitacre was no "deep-throat" informant! He was chaos personified, to put it mildly. Because of his antics, the FBI a ...more
Lobstergirl
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-finance
Few people do these massive reconstructions of corporate malfeasance better than Kurt Eichenwald. The ADM price-fixing case (which Eichenwald covered for the New York Times) almost recedes to the background as he details the bizarre shenanigans of cooperating witness and lying sociopath Mark Whitacre, president of the Bioproducts Division. (Archer Daniels Midland - "Supermarket to the World..." is a giant agribusiness company that made America obese with high fructose corn syrup and made our die ...more
James
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance
The author is fairly good at telling an interesting story,
but by the time I got to page 450, I was burned out and went to the last chapter to see how things turned out.

He put in too many descriptions of buildings, etc that really didn't have anything to do with the story.
Also every fart, sneeze, cough and backache by everyone in the book.

Whoever edited the book failed, the story needed to be tighten up.

Only a little about the trial, and because the book was written in 2000, nothing about a
...more
Ben
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adulthood
Loved the movie and the book is fantastic, as well. I loved the way the author used dialogue through transcripts of taped conversations, first hand accounts, and testimony. It reads so smoothly - unlike many "True Stories" - and you feel the deceptions emotionally rather than just tut tutting the bad actors. You as the reader go on the roller coaster with the investigating agents and the prosecutors as they try to build a case around someone that can't be trusted to tell the truth for longer tha ...more
Phrodrick
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bottom line first: Very readable, barely believable. Perhaps too long and certainly a few too many made up conversations. This is high stakes reality TV with unexpected change - ups to keep you turning pages.

As I remember, or choose to remember the timeline: It was made public that one of the planets largest agricultural food and related industries was under criminal investigation on either the same day or the same week as the White Water investigation went public.

The White Water investigation w
...more
Clif Hostetler
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This non-fiction story is more interesting than any fictional crime detective story. I feel compelled to be a bit more enthusiastic than usual about this book to overcome the reaction of potential readers who are not interested in a story about price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). That may sound boring. Trust me, it’s not!

By the end of the book, you will learn that as of the year 2000 over a billion dollars in fines had been paid worldwide by various food and pharmaceutical companies a
...more
Lacey Louwagie
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This isn't the type of book I usually read. I'm not that interested in true crime or in corporate America. So it says something in itself that I still gave this book four stars -- and my main criticisms of it may have to do more with the fact that the genre isn't really my cup-of-tea than real shortcomings of the book.

The hardest things to take about this book are its length and its huge cast of characters. There are times when it just felt long, and it's hard to keep all the ADM employees, lawy
...more
Kathryn
This one's tricky. It's a fascinating story with a complex man named Mark Whitacre at the center of the storm. (I've already added the movie adaptation to my Netflix queue. I'm curious to see what Matt Damon does with this guy.) It covers a broad range of topics including fraud, corporate espionage, relationships between the FBI and cooperating witnesses, relationships between the FBI and other federal agencies, loyalty, political corruption, mental illness...and the list goes on. The fact that ...more
Greg Foss
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
It was alright. I applaud Eichenwald for being capable of such a complicated and detailed story, but Mark Whitacre is easily one of the most annoying people that has ever lived, and price fixing is hardly a plot that gets one's heart racing. The executives at ADM and bland and boring, and almost seem to try to spice up their own lives by punctuating their conversations with misogyny and sexual objectification of the women in their office. In short - everyone in this book is boring AF - but it do ...more
Suzanne
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A can't-put-it-down book about... antitrust? YES.

The ADM price-fixing case in the late 1990s was unprecedented in terms of scope and evidence. The cooperating witness, Mark Whitacre, spent about three taping meeting and phone calls showing ADM agreeing to fix prices with 4 other companies in the global market for lysine. The ADM fine and evidence led to other prosecutions of price-fixing and law enforcement approaches price-fixing investigations and prosecutions in a completely new way.

But the
...more
Rich Lundeen
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Fascinating true story. On the one hand, I would have liked it more if it were about 1/4 the length. On the other, some of the most interesting details were what made me like it the most. Like... I loved his relationship with the gardener (although totally non essential to the main story).
Stephanie Jones
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Who would have thought that price-fixing, especially price-fixing of something as unsexy as lysine, could make such a roller coaster of a read? "This is [actually] a book about the malleable nature of truth" says the author in the afterward. In this case, the truth is much weirder than fiction. The book reads like a madcap satire rather than as the work of journalism that it is.
Tannie Olsen
Jun 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tannie by: Co-Worker
This book was a tradeout between me and a friend of mine from work. He got to read "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman and I got to read "The Informant". I think he got the better end of the deal.

The Informant is a true story about Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and their alleged price fixing in a variety of agricultural markets. Mark Whitacre, a top executive of ADM, is the 'informant'. Whitacre assisted the FBI in compiling hundreds of audio and video tapes, documenting ADM's price fixing wit
...more
Hazel Bright
Jan 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
So much filler that I gave up.
Judy McCarver
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is CRAAAAZZZZZYYYYY good! The author's insight and coverage of the entrails of this investigation and the entire story is incredibly impressive. I love how well he depicted the often volatile relationships between departments of DOJ, particularly between the AUSA's office, The Anti Trust Division and the Fraud Department. And he was dead on in his revealing how the investigators and agents, who brought the case to the prosecutors in the first place, often get lost in the fight. I know ...more
Eric
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
every time i read a book like this, which doesn't happen often enough, i have a hard time getting into fiction again. if you wrote a novel like this, people would not be able to suspend disbelief, and critics would complain about too many plot implausibilities and an overuse of plot twists. it simply wouldn't work.

if you think you might have trouble getting into a book about lysine price-fixing, you won't. that's just where it starts. it's a fascinating, page-turning look into corporate greed a
...more
Robert Anderson
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Meh. (Spoiler alert!) Sucks you in with the Introduction, but then you go through 600 pages (or in my case 30 hours) and don't ever get any real answers or closure. e.g. Why did Whittaker make up that his parents were killed and then pretend to be adopted? How/why did he make spliced tapes? What was the point of dragging out the part of sending money to Ginger's sister? No counter commentary that both suicide attempts were obviously staged? Also you constantly need to refer to a Rolodex to keep ...more
Malcolm Frawley
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
An investigation into a world-wide price-fixing conspiracy between companies that produce chemicals is investigated after a high-level whistle-blower from American giant, ADM, contacts the FBI. That premise is only the beginning in this truly amazing non-fiction work by Kurt Eichenwald. The titular informant is Mark Whitacre, a complex individual who will never be fully understood by the various justice organisations that worked with him for years (& even sent him undercover to record crimes bei ...more
Susan Flieder
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story and I couldn't put it down! Things that got me hooked up front were that I had dinner at Dwayne Andreas' house as a young college graduate with my then-boyfriend being recruited for a job. I was so in awe, but such a gracious man. The college beau went on to work for ADM and I spent a bit of time around Decatur so knew a lot of the places described, then law school in Chicago so a lot was familiar. I went in, though, thinking it was a story about the corruption at ADM and reali ...more
Kathryn
Dec 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is the most annoying book I've read since Three Cups of Tea. This would have been a much more interesting book had Eichenwald simply allowed the facts to unfold without peppering his prose with conjectural adjectives. It would also have been a much shorter book. This reader wonders why Eichenwald went to such painstaking lengths to trace the paper trail involved in the downfall of a cooperating witness while totally ignoring the incredible waste of resources perpetrated upon the American ta ...more
Jonathan K
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's hard not to hear the Michael Douglas character, Gordon Gecko, in "Wall Street" echoing 'greed is good' when reading this story. Having seen the film I decided to read the book which goes far beyond it in all respects. Mark Whitacre, PhD and head of lysine department at ADM is more like Bernie Madoff than anything else though its not suspected due to his 'good guy' nature. The twists and turns as the story unfolds show just how greedy Fortune 500 companies are and to what end they'll go to m ...more
Dkovlak
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is a real-life, John Grisham-like novel,but it is a true story. The bottom line is that "crime does not pay." No matter how big you are, crime not only hurts you, but hurts many others. The author does an amazing job of investigating and writing this book. He is very thorough and is able to accurately describe meetings and conversations that happened over a multi-year period. Anyone who is interested in big business should read this book. Even though these events happened many years ag ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
WOW! This incredibly true tale of Mark Whitacre, a corporate executive, turning in his co-workers who were involved in price-fixing, is so amazing I wanted to read the almost 600 pages in one sitting. Alas, sleep, work, and baseball (my other great passion) kept me from achieving that, but now it is done! Kurt Eichenwald has awesome writing skills that will keep you wondering until the end; is Mark Whitacre for real? You won't find out from me - you've got to read this great book yourself!
Chelsea
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was amazed by every facet of this book and then appalled to see Archer Daniel Midland ranked in this month's Fortune Magazine as one of the Top Five corporations in the Food Product Division after literally stealing BILLIONS from small farmers around the world for decades. A true American Travesty...
A great read...reads like a well-written mystery or conspiracy novel and yet is a true story.
Kim Ford
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is just an incredible story, full of intrigue and deception. It is frightening how corrupt some businessmen are, and how many of them do not get caught. I learned a lot from this book, from how the FBI works, white collar crimes, the justice system, and bipolar disorder. I really enjoyed the movie, but of course the book descibes everything in such great detail.
Andrea
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, reviewed
This is exactly the kind of book that I'm always on the lookout for but find all too rarely: nonfiction that flows cohesively, building up from a little trickle of a stream to a raging river and onward, till the dams burst! I'll be reading more of Eichenwald's work, no question about it.
Ryan Quillian
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: law nerds
I'm still reading, but this is definitely the most sexy an author could make a story about price fixing.
Tara
Nov 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
very dry and boring. I was very disappointed since I so badly wanted to read it. It sounded very interesting, but unfortunately it wasn't.
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