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The Informant (Movie Tie-in Edition): A True Story [Paperback]

Kurt Eichenwald
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 11 2009 Random House Movie Tie-In Books
[National Bestseller]
Soon to be a major motion picture from Warner Bros., starring Matt Damon.

In The Informant, award-winning investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald tells the outrageously true story of greed, corruption, and conspiracy that left the FBI and Justice Department counting on the cooperation of one man. Now headed for the silver screen, the film adaptation of The Informant is directed by Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh, with Matt Damon set to portray Mark Whitacre, the executive who wore a wire for the FBI as they tried to bring down corporate giant Archer Daniels Midland—but whose dark secrets and hidden agenda threatened to unravel one of the largest price-fixing cases in history.

“Ranks with A Civil Action as one of the best nonfiction books of the last decade.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The most riveting tale of recent years... a fast-paced race-car of a book.” —

“Reads like an Ed McBain crime novel. I knew how the story ended, but I still couldn’t put the book down.”
New York Times

“Gripping…A remarkable work and a compelling read...The intensity of reportage seems at times almost superhuman.” —Newsday

Frequently Bought Together

The Informant (Movie Tie-in Edition): A True Story + Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story + Liar's Poker
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  • Liar's Poker CDN$ 12.96

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Product Description

From Amazon

"The FBI was ready to take down America's most politically powerful corporation. But there was one thing they didn't count on."

So reads the cover of this high-powered true crime story, an accurate teaser to a bizarre financial scandal with more plot twists than a John Grisham novel. In 1992 the FBI stumbled upon Mark Whitacre, a top executive at the Archer Daniels Midland corporation who was willing to act as a government witness to a vast international price-fixing conspiracy. ADM, which advertises itself as "The Supermarket to the World," processes grains and other farm staples into oils, flours, and fibers for products that fill America's shelves, from Jell-O pudding to StarKist tuna. The company's chairman and chief executive, Dwayne Andreas, was so influential that he introduced Ronald Reagan to Mikhail Gorbachev, and it was his maneuvering that ensured that high fructose corn syrup would replace sugar in most foods (ever wondered why Coke and Pepsi don't taste quite like they used to?). There were two mottoes at ADM: "The competitors are our friends, and the customers are our enemies" and "We know when we're lying." And lie they did. With the help of Whitacre, the FBI made hundreds of tapes and videos of ADM executives making price-fixing deals with their corrivals from Japan, Korea, and Canada, all while drinking coffee and laughing about their crimes. The tapes should have cinched the case, but there was one problem: Their star witness was manipulative, deceitful, and unstable. Nothing was as it seemed, and the investigation into one of the most astounding white-collar crime cases in history had only just begun.

Kurt Eichenwald, an investigative reporter, covered the story for The New York Times and interviewed more than 100 participants in the case. He methodically records the six-year investigation, leaving no plot twist or tape transcript unexplored. While his primary focus is on deconstructing the disturbed Whitacre and revealing the malleability of truth, the portrait of ADM (and even the Justice Department) is damning enough to make anyone a cynic. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The Informant is epic in scope, a tale of human foibles--of greed, deceit, and arrogance--and also of the search for truth. Eichenwald has told it masterfully, with the narrative drive of a novel. I guarantee it'll keep you reading late into the night."
-- Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action

"The Informant is superb reporting in the service of a great story, one with the drama and suspense of a Le Carré novel. Set squarely in the American heartland, delving into the inner sanctum of a global corporation, it explores the shifting boundaries of truth and deception, loyalty and betrayal. It is a remarkable achievement."
-- James B. Stewart, Den of Thieves and Blind Eye

"The twists and turns of this nonfiction work leave many thrillers in the dust. Eichenwald's spare prose and journalistic eye for detail make the pages fly."
-- David Baldacci, Absolute Power and Saving Faith

"I would say The Informant reads like Grisham, only nobody ever could have invented these characters. A tale this riveting and this strange could only have been built from truth."
-- Sherry Sontag, coauthor, Blind Man's Bluff

From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
The large gray van, its windows tinted to block the glances of the curious, pulled away from the Decatur Airport, heading toward Route 105. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story, brilliantly written May 28 2004
Were this a review of a novel, I would criticize it for an overcomplicated, convoluted and essentially unbelievable plot. But it is a true story, one that will rivet your attention and leave your head spinning.
The basic story, that the large agri-business Archer Daniels Midland - ADM - was caught in an international price-fixing scam for food additives would merit coverage in Business Week but little else. The key to the story is the informant himself, Mark Whitacre, the President of one of ADM's largest and most successful divisions. Manipulative, deceitful, delusional, sociopathic ... these are accurate but inadequate descriptions of the man who sucked ADM, the FBI and the DOJ into a five-year whirlwind, played out on the headlines of every newspaper in the country; he will suck you in, too.
Who hasn't wondered what kind of knucklehead responds to those crazy scam letters and emails from Nigeria? Actually, so many Americans with access to large amounts of cash responded in the 1980s and 1990s that the FBI had to set up a special liaison office in Lagos to deal with them. Meet Mark Whitacre: brilliant biochemist, builder and President of a hugely successful division of a multi-national corporation; and hopelessly entangled by his crazy belief that he could hit the jackpot by aiding corrupt Nigerian officials. And more, much, much more.
The story will sweep you along, from one unbelievable plot twist to another, not reaching a crescendo until the very end. Great fun. But also a great testament to the American justice system.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is Stranger than Fiction April 28 2004
Corporate espionage, money laundering, greed, and one of the most bizarre whistle-blowing cases the FBI had ever seen. So is the twisted tale told in Kurt Eichenwald's The Informant. And most bizarre of all, its all true. Eichenwald, a senior writer for the New York Times, recalls the events that occurred during the 1990's at the Archer Daniels Midland Company when one of its own executives, Mark Whitacre, became a mole for the FBI. According to Whitacre, the company was working with international competitors to fix prices globally on their products, specifically lysine, a feed additive.
Archer Daniels Midland is a Fortune 500 company located in Decatur, Illinois, and was at the time led by its chairman and chief executive officer, Dwayne Andreas, a politically connected millionaire. ADM is one of the world's largest grain producers, boasting that it is the "Supermarket to the World." Among other things, the company supplies many food manufacturers around the world with food additives such as citric acid, lysine, and corn syrup. To maintain large profit margins, however, the company had acquired many corrupt and illegal practices, all to be dissolved by Mark Whitacre.
Whitacre began his career at ADM at a relatively young age. With a doctorate in biochemistry, he was the president of the bioproducts division at ADM. Whitacre began his work with the FBI in 1992 when ADM began investigating corporate espionage by a competitor. It was believed that a major Japanese competitor, Ajinomoto, had planted a virus in one of ADM's lysine plants. The virus was believed to be the cause of abnormally low production levels. It was further suspected that the competitor had an employee working undercover at ADM to sabotage the plant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dynamite true story of corporate crimes April 28 2004
This is a non-stop action-packed book about nefarious corporate crimes at ADM, an enormous food products company based in Decatur, Illinois.
This book follows the amazing (and at many times unbelievable, but true) twists and turns of events in the years following an initial FBI investigation into suspected corporate espionage at ADM. The investigation quickly led to price fixing and anti-trust issues based on information supplied by "informant" Mark Whitacre. And it moves from there into other corporate crimes, driven by greed.
At first the story seems to be about a simple investigation into price fixing by ADM and many of its international "competitors" (even though the company viewed its customers as the true enemy). The book is written as the events turned out for the FBI, so even though the reader is presented with Whitacre being a strange man, the reader is led to believe that it is because he is stressed about being an informant, worried about being caught by ADM and threatened (as he saw in many fictional movies and books). But it turns into much more and all is not as it seems.
Parts of this book deal with complex financial and corporate issues, but Eichenwald deals with them in a way that is easy to understand.
The book is an incredibly easy read and even though the length can look danuting, I found myself flying through the book and always wanting to see what happens next. So in a sense it is an amazing page turner, just as much as any best selling thrilling novel.
I highly recommend this and be warned that this will make you skeptical of corporate greed and misdeeds and you'll know that many corporate exces were all criminals long before the downfall of Enron.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Would be great fiction...and it's true!
The story starts out as a somewhat interesting investigation of Archer Daniels Midland price fixing, and then delves into the fascinating web of deceipt, back stabbing, and a... Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by Derrick Peterman
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into the White Collar World
Definitely not Grisham, but all of the intrigue is still there. In fact, many of the events that take place would never fly in a fiction work...they'd be thought too outrageous. Read more
Published on April 7 2003 by Mike Winter
5.0 out of 5 stars PURE GREED
If you like to read books about business and industry this is a superb book to read it is unbelieveabe that the informant the person bookis abouut could be such a moron and have... Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002 by T. A Kelley
5.0 out of 5 stars White Collar Crime "Does Pay"
Even though not as fascinating as Kurt Eichenwald's previous masterpiece...Serpent on the rock; the Prudential Financial Insurance Company's billion dollar fraud... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The best thrillers are true stories
This true story of the fall of ADM is engaging and captivating. If you have any interest in big business and how it impacts on everyday life of everyday people, you will enjoy... Read more
Published on June 25 2002 by Eugene
5.0 out of 5 stars True Story Thriller - unbelievable!
I had never heard of the company ADM, but now it will stay with me forever. A gripping true white-collar crime story - so incredible that it is hard to believe that it is actually... Read more
Published on June 14 2002 by Isabella K. Badenoch
5.0 out of 5 stars The competitor is our friend, the customer is our enemy.
I've always enjoyed a book about a good financial scandal, ever since I read a Penguin paperback in the mid-sixties about Tony DiAngelis and the Great Salad Oil Swindle. Read more
Published on June 9 2002 by Robin Benson
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Potboiler- This is an Essential Textbook!
You better believe that this is a real life potboiler! Kurt Eichenwald unravels a dark tale of criminal misconduct in the Archer Daniels Midland conglomerate. Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by L. Dann
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Potboiler- This is an Essential Textbook!
You better believe that this is a real life potboiler! Kurt Eichenwald unravels a dark tale of criminal misconduct in the Archer Daniels Midland conglomerate. Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by L. Dann
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Potboiler- This is an Essential Textbook!
You better believe that this is a real life potboiler! Kurt Eichenwald unravels a dark tale of criminal misconduct in the Archer Daniels Midland conglomerate. Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by L. Dann
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