My Book

Why don't executives go to jail anymore?

Why were no bankers put in prison after the financial crisis of 2008? Why do CEOs seem to commit wrongdoing without meaningful consequences? Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jesse Eisinger lays out the reasons in THE CHICKENSHIT CLUB: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives, a riveting and blistering account of corporate greed and impunity, and the reckless, often anemic response from the Department of Justice.

In January 2002, a few months after James Comey was appointed by George W. Bush as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (the division that traditionally polices Wall Street), he convened a meeting of the criminal justice prosecutors. Comey asked the group, made up of high achievers from elite law schools, “Who here has never had an acquittal or a hung jury?” Almost every hand shot up. Looking around the room, Comey delivered this withering response: “You are members of what we like to call ‘The Chickenshit Club,’” What he meant was that prosecutors were too scared of failure and too daunted by legal impediments to do their jobs. Comey’s speech should have been an inspiring call to arms, but the unfortunate truth is that the club has only grown since then.

Beginning with a cinematic and richly-reported narrative of the Enron case, considered the high-watermark of white-collar prosecution, THE CHICKENSHIT CLUB takes the reader through the last decade and a half of prosecutorial fiascos, corporate lobbying, trial losses, and culture shifts that have stripped the government of the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives. The problem goes beyond banks deemed “Too Big to Fail” to almost every large corporation in America—from pharmaceutical companies to auto manufacturers and beyond.

The book details the Justice Department of the 1970s, when the government pioneered the notion that top corporate executives, not just seedy crooks, could commit heinous crimes and go to prison. From there, the book travels from trading desks on Wall Street, to corporate boardrooms and the offices of prosecutors and F.B.I agents. These revealing looks provide context for the evolution of the Justice Department’s approach to pursuing corporate criminals through the early aughts and into the Justice Department of today.

Exposing one of the most important scandals of our time, THE CHICKENSHIT CLUB provides a clear, detailed explanation as to how our Justice Department has come to avoid, bungle, and mismanage the fight to bring these alleged criminals to justice.

The book is available on Amazon, or direct from Simon & Schuster.

You can also pre-order the audiobook on Audible

I'll be speaking books at the following events:

  • July 11th: Panel on Wall Street Corruption, hosted by ProPublica and New America at Interface
    • NYC  -140 West 30th Street - 6:30PM
  • July 25th: Appearance at Politics and Prose Bookstore
    • D.C. - 5015 Connecticut Ave NW - 7:00 PM
  • August 4th: Benefit for Hotchkiss Library of Sharon on the Green
    • CT - 10 Upper Main Street, Sharon - 6:00 PM