POLITICAL SCIENCE

Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in an Age of Fraud

Riverhead. Oct. 2019. 608p. notes. index. ISBN 9781594634437. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780698405103. POL SCI
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Whistleblowing is a vital weapon against organizational fraud according to former banker Mueller (contributor, The New Yorker; Extra Virginity), who begins this book by reviewing the federal False Claims Act, which gives citizens the right to sue on the behalf of the government, and its resulting recovery of some $60 billion since 1986. The author also considers cases involving hospital overbilling, toxic mortgages at Citigroup, the fraudulent marketing of psychotic drugs, the My Lai Massacre, Hanford Nuclear Reservation safety concerns, and others. Mueller profiles whistleblowers’ backgrounds, motivations, and the retaliations they suffered, while interweaving personal accounts with a deep analysis of the meaning of whistleblowing in the context of organizational authoritarianism, greed, moral ambiguity, conflicts of interest, and secrecy. Government agencies are often apathetic or even hostile to whistleblowers, says Mueller, because of the revolving door between government service and private enterprise.
VERDICT Mueller’s powerful but disheartening story of pervasive fraud and a general collapse of ethical behavior with only glimmers of hope from the bravery of whistleblowers is fully accessible to general readers and substantive enough for academic audiences; a must-read.

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