The Informant: A True Story
By Kurt Eichenwald
Broadway Books; ISBN: 0767903269
606 Pages. $26.00
Reviewed by K�llia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor
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May 18, 2001�Archer Daniels Midland Company, �supermarket to the world,� was �Price-fixer to the world� during the 1990s when this story of corporate and personal greed unfolded. ADM and several high-ranking executives, including Mick Andreas, the son of politically powerful CEO Dwayne Andreas, were convicted of international price-fixing.
Eichenwald, an investigative reporter, chose the novel form to tell this story because �reality can serve as the handmaiden of fiction. . . . I was attempting to put readers in the same uncertain position as the investigators.� Journalists and students of media may find the story of how Eichenwald wrote the book, outlined at the end, as interesting as the story of ADMs scandal.
The result is a long but engrossing police and psychological thriller about how a whistleblower drew ADMs scheme to the attention of the FBI, and how the agents eventually closed in on the company. In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction way, the story is full of twists and turns as the informant, an ADM insider, tries to exploit the situation with a scheme of his own.
This is also a cautionary take for those who think the so-called free market is a panacea. As one ADM executive put it, �Competitors are our friends. Customers are the enemy.� If there is no such thing as a free lunch, The Informant suggests that, where transnational companies are concerned, there is also no such thing as a free market.
This review was first published in the May 2001 edition of The Progressive.