David Enrich delivers a master class in financial sleuthing. The New York Times’ financial editor follows the money, plows through paper and talks to dozens of people in the bank’s ecosystem. There are names, places and computer files. This is a first-rate read ... Like a discordant melody that haunts disturbing lyrics, Dark Towers is woven with the life and the 2014 suicide of Bill Broeksmit, a former Deutsche executive ... His death imparts to Enrich’s book an air of mystery ... Dark Towers is an excellent primer for what may well await [President Trump].
Dark Towers offers a compelling, if familiar, thesis: that unchecked ambition twisted a pillar of German finance into a reckless casino and fostered a culture in which amorality and, ultimately, criminality thrived. Deutsche is intriguing not only because its leaders chased growth at any cost—resulting in mountains of losses, as it always does—but because it once was the emblem of European institutional lending, the near-opposite of Wall Street short-termism ... [employee William] Broeksmit’s suicide elevated his usefulness as a narrative prop, perhaps more than Deutsche warranted. Enrich doggedly prowls the psychological shadows for clues about what might have driven him ... Dark Towers suffers some unfortunate tropes of business journalism ... the bank is 'fueled' by greed. Perhaps 'fuel' should be reserved for energy writers ... Enrich has given us a thorough, clearly written and generally levelheaded account of a bank that lost its way.
... excellent, deeply reported ... Trump's murky relationship with Deutsche Bank is still under congressional investigation, so Enrich's story is necessarily incomplete. Still, the book has enough detail to make its case that Deutsche Bank was more than just one more rogue bank; it is a cautionary tale of what happens when a bank pursues profits at any cost, without being weighed down by pesky moral scruples.
A revelatory book...that also has all the elements of a page-turning mystery novel ... Enrich...couldn’t have made up a more intriguing tale than the story he uncovered at Deutsche Bank. The result, Dark Towers, is a real-life account that will confirm every suspicion you have about the greed and incompetence at the heart of modern finance ... but in the end Enrich can’t quite pull it off. Part of the problem is that the demands of constructing a compelling, dramatic narrative lead him to ignore too much about the bank’s operations, its financial performance and what else was happening in the industry to put these dramatic events in context and make it a credible business history. Enrich organizes the book around the career of one banker, Bill Broeksmit ... But in the end, the stories of the bank and the banker do not track each other in a way that feels true and convincing. Enrich certainly did a tremendous amount of reporting ... The biggest shortcoming of Dark Towers, however, is that while it raises provocative questions about Deutsche Bank and Trump, it never quite answers them.
In Dark Towers, the scope and diversity of crimes committed by Deutsche in the last 20-odd years is hard to process ... It creates a fatigue that can drive the reader to lazy conclusions ... While Enrich does a good job of revealing Deutsche Bank for what it is, his conclusions don’t make the important task of figuring out why it happened any easier ... The important point the book makes is that banking is the locus of enormous power with vast geopolitical consequences.
Dark Towers,/em> is a devastating tale of a big bank gone bad ... To Enrich’s credit, his review of decades of complicated Deutsche debacles is easy to read — suitable for a spot under the tree next Christmas. As was the case in his book on the Libor scandal, The Spider Network, he draws the reader in by focusing on the people in his story, displaying an Arthur Miller-like eye for the worn-down Willy Lomans of today’s Wall Street ... The drawback of Enrich’s up-close-and-personal approach is that it puts great weight on psychological factors to explain Deutsche’s woes ... The book would have benefited from a more thorough discussion of the business challenges that Deutsche faced as it switched gear.
Part exposé, part mystery, Enrich’s account is important because it illuminates Deutsche Bank’s excesses and Trump’s business practices. Readers of Andrew Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail, which unveiled vulnerabilities in the financial industry, will find Enrich’s more focused account equally compelling.
... [a] propulsive, richly detailed account ... Enrich writes with verve, making financial jargon accessible to general readers. This journalistic tour de force hints that plenty of shocking secrets are yet to be revealed.