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.