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Giantkillers: The Team and The Law That Help Whistle-Blowers Recover America's Stolen Billions

1 rating: 3.0
2004 non-fiction book by Henry Scammell

In 1986, with contractors stealing an estimated 10 percent of the total federal budget by fraud, Congress passed a newly strengthened anticorruption law. Ordinary citizens could file lawsuits on behalf of the government to recover money stolen from the … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Nonfiction
Author: Henry Scammell
Genre: History
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Date Published: January 2004
1 review about Giantkillers: The Team and The Law That...

Fascinating history of the "False Claims Act".

  • Dec 12, 2008
  • by
Henry Scammells latest offering is an interesting read from a couple of different perspectives.  Students of history will enjoy reading about the emergence of the "False Claims Act." in the 1860's and how a handful of individuals recognized how it might become relevant again in the late twentieth century.  This law, supported by President Abraham Lincoln and enacted by the Congress during the Civil War was designed to encourage citizens to "blow the whistle" on fraud.  It had been quite effective in the mid to late nineteenth century but its provisions were hopelessly out of date and the law had essentially been dormant for fifty years.  John Phillips, a talented and committed young lawyer who founded the Center for Law in the Public Interest became aware of the law in 1983 and immediately recognized its potential.  Phillips knew that if the law was revised properly that it would have a major impact on public interest law.  He found a pair of powerful allies in the Congress who helped shepherd through the needed changes to the law.  They were strange bedfellows indeed.  Chuck Grassley, the conservative Republican senator from Iowa and Howard Berman, a liberal Democratic congressman from California played key roles in getting the revised "False Claims Act" passed.

Most of the book, however, is devoted to the trials and tribulations of those courageous individuals who felt morally bound to stand up and risk everything to challenge practices and procedures they believed to be illegal and immoral.  Those cited in this book came from a wide range of industries.  Jim Alderson recognized fraud in the health care industry.  Emil Stache found his company was shipping obviously defective products to the Defense Department. Michael Lissack decided that he could not in good conscience remain silent about the unchecked corruption he had become aware of on Wall Street. And there were others....many others.  Scammell does a terrific job of revealing what it was like to be one of of these "whistleblowers".  In future years, this book will prove to be an extremely valuable resource for anyone who finds themselves in this position.

After reading the book, I learned that nearly 60% of the suits filed under the "False Claims Act" were dismissed.  If this is true I would agree that the author should have taken a bit of time discussing the reasons why.  The author is obviously a huge proponent of this law.  And a great many government employees are not happy with the "False Claims Act" and it's provision to allow individuals to sue contractors on the governments behalf.  Too bad.  Governmental inertia is a major reason why the law was resurrected in the first place.   "Giantkillers: The Team and The Law That Help Whistle-Blowers Recover America's Stolen Billions" is a book you will enjoy and learn from at the same time.

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