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Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland, the Supermarket to the World Paperback – January 10, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (January 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568582188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568582184
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #609,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Archer Daniels Midland--popularly known as ADM, the "Supermarket to the World"--spends millions on ads during Sunday morning TV talk shows and on public radio to burnish its popular image. But behind the façade lies a vicious business eager to fix prices with its competitors and employ prostitutes in corporate espionage, according to James B. Lieber's muckraking account, Rats in the Grain. Lieber tells the story of why the FBI raided ADM's Illinois headquarters in 1995, as well as the events leading up to the raid and the trial that resulted. ADM was not an easy target--it's extremely well connected in Washington (an appendix listing politicians who have received financial contributions from ADM reads like a who's who of Beltway power brokers), and it was a leading recipient of federal largesse. In the end, ADM paid a criminal antitrust fine of $100 million, and two top executives were sent to prison for collaborating with competitors. But the case was messy. The FBI's informant, Mark Whitacre--once believed to be in line to succeed the company president--twice tried to commit suicide following the FBI raid, and was eventually sentenced to nine years for fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

But Lieber tells the story of ADM's crisis well, and with a strong anti-ADM slant. He's no master of prose style, but his writing is clear and to the point. His book simply crackles with detail--at times, it's difficult to keep up with all the characters (there's another appendix identifying them for easy reference). Throughout the text, readers will feel as if they're in the middle of a 60 Minutes exposé of dirty business practices--a sense augmented by several pages of photos taken from hidden surveillance cameras spying on backroom deals. After reading Rats in the Grain, it will be impossible to look at one of those feel-good ADM ads the same way again. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, which bills itself as "supermarket to the world," had its wholesome image tarnished in 1998 when a federal trial in Chicago found two of its top executives guilty of fixing prices with the firm's competitors; each got two years in prison. The FBI informant who put them there, Mark Whitacre, former president of ADM's bioproducts division, secretly made audio and video tapes of ADM meetings. According to Whitacre, ADM's bizarre unofficial motto was: "The competitor is our friend and the customer is our enemy." Thanks to Whitacre, ADM in 1996 agreed to pay a record antitrust fine of $100 million for price-fixing schemes that cost consumers much more than inflated prices for soft drinks, detergents, poultry and other products. Amazingly, Whitacre, who himself pleaded guilty in 1997 to money laundering and tax fraud, got a far more severe penaltyAnine years in prisonAthan the corporate crooks he exposed. In this thoroughgoing, devastating expos?, Lieber (Friendly Takeover) suggests one reason for this disparity may be that ADM, a premier beneficiary of federal subsidies and tax loopholes, is a politically well-connected behemoth whose law firm had unbridled influence at the Justice Department. The book's centerpiece, a labyrinthine re-creation of the 1998 trial, includes testimony alleging that ADM used prostitutes to gather information on competitors, that it set up phony trade associations as camouflage and that it stole technology by bribing rival companies' employees. Lieber meticulously serves up a seamy stew of sex, lies and videotape, revealing corruption that taints an entire industry. Photos include stop-action shots from the FBI tapes. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
13%
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See all 24 customer reviews
The American taxpayer does!
"qbnchzhd"
After reading this book I realized that the story behind the advertisement was very interesting.
Bernard Haines
Lieber documents every truth about the ADM scandal.
"yataghan0"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jussi Bjorling on August 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Like everyone else, I was only vaguely aware of ADM before I read this book. I won't forget ADM soon, though. All the dirty tricks you hear about seem to have been concentrated in one company: everything from antitrust violations to bribery and intimidation. Short of treason, it's hard to think of a crime ADM didn't commit.
James Lieber has done a tremendous amount of research, and it shows. Even when no first-hand sources are available, he is often able to reconstruct a conversation or meeting, and he is very fair about drawing a clear line between facts and suppositions. My only complaint is that he can get a little carried away in his criticism, blaming ADM for practices common to many American corporations (e.g. political contributions, influence peddling, media spin). However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise outstanding book. Buy it and read it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "nemodat1" on February 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Attorney Lieber deserves high praise for his objective, informative presentation of the antitrust criminal case vs. Archer Daniels Midland, the agribusiness giant, that ADM, its powerful lawyers and Clinton's Justice Department did not want published. To his credit, he continued to pursue this case after most reporters backed off and swallowed the dizzying spin and disinformation that ADM's CEO Dwayne Andreas and his aggressive lawyers gave the media, crying crocodile tears as the "victim" of an allegedly deranged ADM executive, Mark Whitacre, who became the FBI's mole, and made hundreds of tapes incriminating ADM executives fixing prices in world markets with their competitors. Lieber correctly smelled the stench of a cover-up and adroitly guides readers to make their own
conclusions after compiling evidence, omissions from court records, and other factors that allow readers to infer that the judicial process was compromised by ADM's widespread political
influence before the trial even began. Although Dwayne Andreas,
the infamous political fixer and king of corporate welfare, got immunity in a highly secretive plea bargain to Justice in 1996,
after ADM agreed to pay a record fine of $100 million, his son
Michael was convicted and imprisoned with Terry Wilson for a
mere 3 years, and Dwayne (thanks to outraged and courageous ADM
shareholders) finally resigned. Tragically, Whitacre was
convicted, fined and sentenced to a harsh term of 9 years
because of ADM's swift retaliation against him as whistleblower, for exposing to the FBI the ... corporate culture of
ADM...
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David L. Rosenthal on April 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the type of information we should be getting on the news...instead of cats stuck in trees and dogs fallen into wells, which too often substitutes for what is really going on in America. Rats in the Grain, about the two-footed rats in suits that manipulate our diet, our government, and our economy....that is the news, ladies and gentlemen. It is fascinating reading, giving the outsider a clear view of how the individuals who make up our government's departments and big business' top offices think and act to our benefit or detriment. Next time your evening news anchor talks about rolling Easter eggs on the White House lawn, call him up and ask him what he thinks about Archer Daniels Midland's rolling our dollars into their bank vaults through fraud and market manipulation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "yataghan0" on April 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
AGRIBUSINESS ANTITRUST CASE LEAVES WHISTLEBLOWER IN PRISON The book, "Rats in the Grain; The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland" by James B. Lieber describes what Nicholas Hollis, president of the Agribusiness Council called "one of the most important antitrust cases of the century. It certainly was the most important to agriculture." The case developed because one of ADM's highest officials, Mark Whitacre became "one of the most productive...and...courageous" whistleblowers in history," Hollis added. He noted that Whitacre "stood up to two eight-hundred-pound gorillas, ADM with the Andreases and the federal government." He's talking about ADM's primary grandfather, Dwayne Andreas and his relatives. Ironically, the federal judicial system treated the whistleblower more harshly than it treated ADM and its leaders. Whitacre was given up to 10 years of prison (probably until 2007) while only two of his supervisors were tried and given a couple years. One of them, however, was Andreas' only son, Michael (Mick). Helpful in Lieber's 400-page account are various appendices that list people and places linked with white-collar crime close to the case. Despite its lawyer-like detail, this is not a tedious book. It suspensefully chronicles case events. Lieber also includes useful data on U.S. trust busting history. Lieber describes an epic struggle for justice and his part IV, "The Cover-Up" shows how the government avoided giving ADM the usual punishments for such major crimes. It seems justice has yet to be served. This book ought to be require reading not only for every journalism, law and business student who wants to know what goes on in the 'real' world but for every high school class studying the U.S. government. Lieber documents every truth about the ADM scandal. Read "Rats In The Grain!" - end -
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