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Man Wuerker BOOKS & THE CULTURE Inc. Ink The History and Challenge of Corporate Power BY ANDREW WHEAT CORPORATE PREDATORS: The Hunt for Mega-Profits and the Attack on Democracy. By Russell Mokhiber & Robert Weissman. Introduction by Ralph Nader. Common Courage Press. 213 pages. $14.95. CORPORATION NATION: How Corporations Are Taking Over Our Lives and What We Can Do About It. By Charles Derber. St. Martin’s Press. 366 pages. $24.95. Two complementary recent books analyze the corrosive toll that excessive corporate powers have taken on democracy. One book contains dozens of snippets chronicling recurring incidents of corporate abuse. The other is a college professor’s take on how we got here and what is to be done. Corporate Predators serves up five dozen pithy vignettes of corporate crime and arrogance. These three-page dispatches have the feel, smell, and tempo of fresh newsprint. You may recall reading some of these better-known incidents in your local paper. But the authors sweep up the shattered pieces left behind after the daily news breaks, placing them in a context that is absent from the dailies. Namely, this book argues that these repeated episodes of corporate shenanigans do not occur in isolation. They form a pattern. Because Corporate Predators covers a lot of ground yet can be read in a couple sittings, corporate threads begin to crisscross as the authors tighten the dragnet. A vignette about the New England Journal of Medicine’s failure to disclose a writer’s funding conflicts pulls back from that incident to show a history of such problems. Texas A&M researcher Stephen Safe editorialized in the Journal against “chemophobic” attempts to link breast cancer to environmental estrogens, for example, without disclosing that a fifth of his funding came from the Chemical Manufacturers Association. Sandra Steingraber was in Austin, Texas promoting her book linking cancer to pollution when she was broadsided by a scathing Journal review. The Journal never mentioned that the reviewer was the top toxicologist at chemical giant W.R. Grace. Similar threads surface seventy pages later, when the authors recount a littleknown irony about a character from the bestselling book A Civil Action \(who did book tells the true story of a lawsuit filed by the families of children who developed leukemia after chemicals dumped by W.R. Grace contaminated their water supply. “The only lesson that corporations understand is money,” the book quotes Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson, a lawyer for the families. “That is their blood.” Corporate Predators then catches Nesson in the act of corporate bloodsucking. Nesson submitted a brief on behalf of a drug company in a landmark 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, involving a woman’s claim that the morning sickness drug Bendectin caused a birth defect in her baby. The Supremes used the case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow, to transfer important evidence-weighing authority from juries to trial judges. After the Daubert decision, Nesson led seminars instructing judges about their new evidence-filtering powers. But Nesson himself excluded evidence from these judges. He failed to tell them that the Civil Justice Reform Group, organized by defense lawyers at sixty of the nation’s largest corporations, underwrote the seminars to the tune of $300,000. In the spirit of better disclosure, this reviewer acknowledges links to the authors of Corporate Predators. Veteran corporate crime chroniclers Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman are Ralph Nader proteges who respectively bang out the Corporate Crime Reporter and Multinational Monitor magazine, where this reviewer once worked. This reviewer also attended a number of tiny demonstrations that Mokhiber organized in Washington, D.C., to protest such corporate abuses as: 36 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 23, 1999 , .