The Informant, A True Story
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The Informant, A True Story

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,662 ratings  ·  257 reviews
From an award-winning New York Times investigative reporter comes an outrageous story of greed, corruption, and conspiracy--which left the FBI and Justice Department counting on the cooperation of one man . . .

It was one of the FBI's biggest secrets: a senior executive with America's most politically powerful corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, had become a confidential g...more
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Published October 2003 by Recorded Books (first published August 28th 2000)
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Lisa
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
Lobstergirl
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
Suzanne
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
Tannie Olsen
Jun 14, 2008 Tannie Olsen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
James
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
Lacey Louwagie
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
Eric
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
Dkovlak
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
Chelsea
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
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.
Melody
Wow. This was an insane five-star read from the moment I read the first page. I lost count of the number of times I said, "Is this for real? This is better than a movie!" This book has more twists and turns than any book I've ever read--and it's all true {or as true as you're going to get}.

Eichenwald writes with the pen of a novelist, crafting quick scenes that cut from one to another without a break to breathe. It's marvelous, page-turning writing. {If you are familiar with Frank Peretti's cine...more
Paul Pessolano
This book is for those who like true crime and those that enjoy John Grisham. This book is a John Grisham type novel, except that it really did happen. In fact there are similarities to his book, "The Partner". If anyone has read John Harr's novel "Civil Action", which is a true lawyer story, will find this book very much to their liking.

This book is about the executive employees of Archer Daniels Midland Company, or ADM. Although I did not recogfnize this company, it does touch each of our live...more
Alain Dewitt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alicia
Are you like to read the books first or see the movie first? I'll admit, I'm a "BOOK FIRST" sort of gal. And so when I saw that this would be made into a movie, I wanted to read it first.

This is the true story (non-fiction whore that I am) about a cooperating witness working with the FBI. However, the "golden informant" that the FBI thinks they have turns out to be so much more than they bargained for.

It's such a tangled story but the author does a great job of telling the story. Giving us just...more
Andrew Crouch
Logistics, logistics, logistics! If you're like me and you love the fine and gory details about massive operations, be they corporate or government, you'll be hard-pressed to go hungry with Eichenwald's comprehensive account of the ADM price-fixing scandal. At least that's the prima facie subject matter: what the book is really about is one of the most vivid and complex characters that I've come across in fiction or non-fiction, the enigmatic Mark Whitacre. Whitacre's frenzied paranoia and intri...more
Jim
As far as business books go, this is well worth a read. The story is ostensibly about global price fixing in an obscure food related industry, but it really is more about the whistle blower and the agents who track and manage him. The "Informant", Mark Whitacre, is a case study in himself, and I found it hard to empathise with him despite quite a sympathetic portrayal by the author. He blithely lies, schemes, betrays and embezzles his way through the book in order to try and hide his numerous fr...more
Fiona715
You don’t have to like or understand business to enjoy this book, it reads like a comedic thriller, but it’s true.

Archer Daniels Midlands is one of those companies you always see ads for (often around PBS shows), but probably have little to no idea what they do. Well, I for one now have a much better idea, but I can’t say that I admire them at all—and the US Justice Department and parts of the FBI don’t come off much better! ADM, which advertises itself as "The Supermarket to the World," proces...more
Joe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clif Hostetler
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
Jordan McPeek
Fascinating true story of the main witness in the biggest price-fixing case in the U.S. The first half is the most compelling as Mark Whitacre, the title character, starts to cooperate with the FBI and collect evidence through secret recordings. The second half, once the undercover portion is done, focuses more on how a major case gets stretched and pulled in all directions while winding its way through the bureaucracy. The cast of characters is large, and becomes especially hard to pin down in...more
Katy
OK, so I know it's a little weird to say i just finished reading a can't-put-it-down book about an anti-trust case featuring Archer Daniel Midland, a grain-producing company in DeKalb, Illinois. Talk about a page turner, huh? To continue with the negative, it's 600 pages long, non-fiction, and besides price fixing, deals with embezzlement and political infighting. Wow, right?

Seriously, I am so impressed with author Kurt Eichenwald that I'm set to read anything he writes. I first read his Enron b...more
Suzan
FORGET the coy “A true story…based on a tattle tale” cover line, this book is 100 per cent documentary. The Informant reveals, step-by-step, one of the greatest corporate anti-trust cases in American history, exposed by one of the most fascinating and despicable individuals you will ever read about.

When Dr Mark Whitacre contacted the FBI about international price-fixing at Archer Daniels Midland—one of the world’s most influential and politically connected companies—nobody knew (or cared) about...more
Jeff
I don't remember where I picked this up, since it's a pretty old book (2000), but I really enjoyed it. It reads like a novel, and there were a number of times when I just couldn't believe some of what I was reading. In the end, there's an interesting twist that gives indication to a question the FBI agents asked near the start of the investigation, when they were trying to figure out why Whitacre would cooperate with them. If you want an entertaining read about a real-life anti-trust investigati...more
Cheryl
I read the book The Informant mainly because it was one if the books I puchased just prior to buying an ereader 3 or 4 years ago. It was in my dusty book shelf to be read area.

I would be lying to say I found the first part of the book interesting -(price fixing on lysine is akin to watching paint dry) but Eichenwald told a well researched story about Mark Whitacre, the fbi, ADM, the lawyers and the witness unravelling that made it fascinating.

The back half of book when the truth behind Mark was...more
Shira Karp
I read this book in 2003 and rated it quite a while ago, but I just got back from seeing the movie version of "The Time Traveler's Wife" in which they showed a preview for the movie they're making of this book starring Matt Damon and Scott Bacula. Pleased with that cast, but they're turning it into a comedy? I figured I'd come write an actual review.

I've never been a fan of the spy/thriller genre in books. I love the spy/thriller MOVIES, but other than John Grisham and Dan Brown I'd never been a...more
C.S.
This is one of the most engrossing books I've been fortunate enough to read all year. I saw the Steven Soderbergh's adaptation in theatres shortly after it came out, and like I usually do after seeing a movie, I spent a little time reading reviews after I got home. Several of them made some mention of the book, usually pointing out how brilliant it was, enough that I decided to track it down and have a look myself. I'm glad I did.

I think I saw a pull quote that said something along the lines of...more
J.C.
I enjoyed this book enough to give it 3 stars. but I would not put it on my best non-fiction shelf.

I enjoyed the true crime aspects of the case, Kurt Eichenwald did a good job of keeping the suspense up (although the first 150 pages are a bit tedious, and the constant references to Mr. John Grisham could have been left out) as well as his attempts at simplifying the crimes involved for the average reader (don't know much about history, don't know much biology). The beginning prologue is pretty e...more
Jean
If you suspect big corporations sometimes place profits before ethical and transparent business practices, this book will absolutely confirm that suspicion. I also got an education on things like food additives - or more precisely, biologically engineered things fed to would-be food, like chickens, to make them heavier - and related US and international corporations' price fixing and dirty dealings. This book isn't very stylishly written, but it does march steadily forward with plenty of true de...more
James
I don't know where to begin describing this book.

It's a big book, and I've been reading it for a couple weeks, and I haven't been able to place my finger on why this book is amazing, or even how to describe it.

The basic description, that makes me yawn, is: a large agriculture company is involved with price-fixing, and an executive turns informant to tell the FBI all about it.

But the informant turns out to be....this is one of the places I get stuck - trying to put into words the largess of Mark...more
Tom
As Eichenwald states in his Afterword, "this is a book about the malleable nature of truth." It is also a thoroughly researched and interestingly recounted history of an international price fixing effort, and its tortured investigation and prosecution. Bothe the self destructive behavior of the cooperating witness within ADM and the political tensions between the FBI and the DOJ buffeted the case throughout and increase the suspense as well as building a sense of empathy for some of the key part...more
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