Great Title, Extensive Research, ‘Follow The Money’ at its Best
Based on its title, David Enrich’s new book “Dark Towers” might sound like an appendix to the nine part horror-fantasy series that Stephen King wrote between 1982 and 2012. In reality, though, Enrich’s book is a true story of financial corruption, with the full title “Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction.” Nevertheless, the tale is just as riveting as any novel, and is perhaps even darker than any work of fiction.
Enrich’s book, recently released on February 18th, follows the trajectory of Deutsche Bank, a German bank that formed in 1870, helped finance the Nazi’s through World War II, and then came to America in the late 20th Century to get in on the deregulated American economy. And, in particular, during the most recent decade when Deutsche started financing a volatile real-estate tycoon named Donald Trump.
As Enrich makes clear over the book’s 400+ pages, Deutsche has been a portrait of Wall Street depravity and recklessness. The company grew to be the largest bank in the world, with 90,000 employees and nearly $2 trillion in assets. It took on Trump as a client when no one else would, for the bank, as is well documented in this tome, relished in rule-breaking and loaned the young(er) Donald billions of dollars for risky projects. According to Enrich, without the help of Deutsche, Trump probably would’ve never become the ragged edge gambler that he did, and subsequently, he probably would’ve never become President.
At the Heart of the Corrupt Story, of course, is Russia
The book was researched over a long period of time, most notably during the period Enrich was Financial Editor for the New York Times. His direct contacts and stories relating to several top officials at Deutsche Bank that died via suicide under mysterious circumstances gave him access to some unique documents and data. During a period between 2010 and 2015 massive sums of money were loaned to Trump at a time when no banks other than Deutsche would even consider a loan, due to his multiple bankruptcies and other irregularities. Ultimately, through some complex maneuvering a Russian financial concern called VTB was involved in the process. The same VTB that was also involved in negotiations for a project to build Trump Tower Moscow.
Due to Trump’s seemingly endless legal battles to prevent his tax returns from being seen, even within a closed trial setting, it is likely that the ultimate truths in this part of the saga will only be revealed once he has left office. Needless to say, along with many other legal issues there will be a lot riding on the November elections for the Nation and, in many ways detailed in this book, for Trump personally.
Aside from the bank’s dealings with Trump—which are now the topic of federal investigation—Enrich also describes Deutsche’s multiple cases of criminal behavior. In a promotional interview the author did with NPR, he explains that Deutsche “had more money-laundering schemes than I can even count off the top of my head. They were evading taxes. They were bribing people. They were violating international sanctions. Look at any major financial scandal in the past 10 or 15 years, Deutsche Bank has been at or near the center.”
Naturally, this all leads up to the financial crash of 2008, where the bank yet again narrowly escaped dreadful consequences by using shady methods of exploitative foresight.
Some Hard Evidence is Here but the Reckoning will Require A Legal Battle
However, Enrich’s book is not a dry account of contemporary American finances, nor is it a bland record of numbers and figures. With the voice of an accomplished journalist, Enrich shares a compelling narrative through “Dark Towers,” one filled with colorful characters and interwoven plotlines.
While it is certainly a work of non-fiction, reading the book is a novelistic experience. It opens with the mysterious death of former Deutsche employee Bill Broeksmit, which Enrich uses as the starting point to unravel the bank’s incredible history—one that spans interactions with everyone from Trump to Russian oligarchs.
As aforementioned, “Dark Towers” is an entirely true story, but that just makes it all the more twisted. It is a telling tale for the post-truth age: a story of power constructs and hard-to-digest realities that will leave you second-guessing the burden of knowing the cold hard facts.
David Enrich is the Financial Editor for the New York Times. He is the recipient of the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award for feature journalism amongst other awards. “Dark Towers” is his second book, following 2017’s “The Spider Network” which was shortlisted for the Financial Times’ Best Book of the Year award.
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