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Francesca recommends a book | Manolo for the Big Girl

Francesca recommends a book

Click here to buy The Informant before you see the Matt Damon movie.

Click here to buy The Informant before you see the Matt Damon movie.

A couple of weeks ago, Francesca was reading the New York Times movie review of the film The Informant!, starring Matt Damon.

Francesca does not currently have plans to see this film, but the article made her realize not only that the film is based on a true story, but that it is based on a book by Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald and Francesca remembered that she owns this book already. A friend gave it to her months ago as a present but Francesca never got around to reading it.

So Francesca made the time, and although the book is long and full of dense information about a complicated FBI investigation into a price-fixing scheme and the machinations of their key witness, Mark Whitacre, Eichenwald manages to tell the story in a way that even a layperson can understand the economics behind the crime. And Francesca was shocked to learn that most of the tidbits you see in the movie trailer actually represent reality. Hard to believe…  but that’s the point of the book.

It reads a bit like a Grisham novel, except that knowing the story is true — Eichenwald did over 800 hours of interviews and got access to the FBI’s tapes, transcripts, etc — makes it much, much more interesting. This window into how investigations really work is fascinating and made the book well-worth the time investment.

3 Responses to “Francesca recommends a book”

  1. Rayne of Terror October 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    I lived in Decatur IL for a decade starting in 1995, when the events in the book are wrapping up. I’ve read the book a couple times and I love to spot the errors. Like Eichenwald assumes because the hotel has rooms numbered in the 500s that it’s the fifth floor. My wedding reception was in that hotel and I stayed in the first floor wing where the rooms are numbered 500s on my wedding night.

    I also met FBI agent Brian SHepard when I worked in the same building for a summer in 2004. I was totally smitten with the movie because I got to see Decatur on the big screen. Fun stuff!

  2. erisagal October 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    When I first heard about the movie, it sounded familiar. I finally realized that it was the subject of a story on “This American Life” on NPR, which I’d listened to a few years ago. “This American Life” rebroadcast the piece a few weeks ago–you can listen online at their website. The piece contains snippets of the price-fixing conversations secretly recorded by Whitacre– amazing!

  3. Chiken October 7, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    The movie is pretty good. I’m not sure why you’ve decided against seeing it, but if you are looking to be entertained I would give it a go.