In This Review

Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal
Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal
By Jack Ewing
Norton, 2017, 352 pp

In 2015, a scandal rocked Volkswagen, the world’s largest automobile company, when investigators found that it had equipped its diesel-engine cars with computer code that allowed them to evade antipollution regulations. Nitrous oxide is responsible for asthma, heart attacks, and other health risks, and Volkswagen’s “defeat devices” hid emission levels that were up to 20 times as high as the legal limits. In the end, the fraud cost the company over $10 billion in fines and restitution. This book by a reporter who covered the story has the vices and virtues of a journalistic account. It is repetitive, peddles cheap stereotypes of Germans and business executives, and struggles to develop a bottom line: indeed, readers never learn exactly who in the company knew about the fraud. Yet the book is nonetheless quite readable—and worth reading for its insights into global corporations and efforts by governments to regulate them. Readers learn how assiduously the German government protects its big businesses from national and EU regulations, how easily large organizations can be directed to harmful and illegal purposes, and how essential academic scholars and independent government regulators are to the protection of the public interest.