The Informant: A True Story
by Kurt Eichenbaum, Broadway Books, 520 Pages, Hardcover $26.00 20% $20.80, Late August 2000, 0767903269
Kurt Eichenbaum is the author of the best selling Serpent on the Rock, and has now written a true crime book that centers around one of the most misunderstood and mysterious Fortune 500 companies on earth: Archer Danials Midland. I worked with Kurt in the mid-90s when Serpent was first published, so when he called me about the new book, I was excited. He sent me a very early copy of the manuscript so I could read it on my vacation. This 500+ page book truly reads like a contemporary novel with some huge twists and turns, but scarily enough, it is all true! What we have is the president of one of ADM's divisions that gets moralityor does he??? - and becomes the FBI's inside guy who tapes some of the most outrageous price fixing conversations between ADM people and their competitors.
The power ADM has over our consumable products was appalling to me. The book centers around a microbe that creates a product the chickens eat to gain weight quicker. That product represented billions of dollars in revenue. The very unofficial slogan of ADM is "Our competitors are our friend and our customer is our enemy." Really. Yikes!
Now, that is enough for a great book but then the exec starts to get flaky, releasing information or telling people he shouldn't, about the FBI's plans and ends up having a breakdown. As I was reading the book, I kept interrupting my wife with unbelievable stories from the book. The book is as good as any novel you could read and it is true.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.