Wow! The Chickenshit Club is an amazingly reported, in-depth, and thoroughly depressing book on the state of modern law enforcement. The title comes from a speech by former FBI Director James Comey while he was Director of the Southern District in New York, the preeminent branch in the country. The one tasked with handling complex financial and other white collar crimes. Comey noted that prosecutors don’t like to lose in trials and often settle as a result. “The Chickenshit Club” refers to prosecutors who have never lost a case, presumably because they chickened out beforehand with a settlement. While a great sentiment, even Comey soon becomes a member of this club at the FBI.

Eisinger covers the history of the Justice Department and white collar crime, noting that as recently as the early 2000s executives (Enron, WorldCom, etc) actually did face trials and subsequent jail time for their crimes. Today that never happens. Companies pay fines while admitting no wrongdoing, prosecutors chalk up a win without having to do all the work of a real trial (and possibly losing), and the top prosecutors invariably then become well paid defenders for these white collar criminals.

The career prosecutors who do fight the system are blacklisted internally by their higher-ups and punished when they try to work in the more lucrative private sector and find all doors closed.

This book documents the complete regulatory capture of the justice system in the U.S. for white collar criminals. A fascinating read that brings up more questions than answers.