Lee Johnson was a man with simple dreams. All he wanted was a steady job and a nice home for his wife and children, something better than the hard life he knew growing up. He never imagined that he would become the face of a David-and-Goliath showdown against one of the world’s most powerful corporate giants. But a workplace accident left Lee doused in a toxic chemical and facing a deadly cancer that turned his life upside down. In 2018, the world watched as Lee was thrust to the forefront of one the most dramatic legal battles in recent history.
The Monsanto Papers is the inside story of Lee Johnson’s landmark lawsuit against Monsanto. For Lee, the case was a race against the clock, with doctors predicting he wouldn’t survive long enough to take the witness stand. For the eclectic band of young, ambitious lawyers representing him, it was a matter of professional pride and personal risk, with millions of dollars and hard-earned reputations on the line. For the public at large, the lawsuit presented a question of corporate accountability. With enough money and influence, could a company endanger its customers, hide evidence, manipulate regulators, and get away with it all—for decades?
Readers will be astounded by the depth of corruption uncovered, captivated by the shocking twists, and moved by Lee’s quiet determination to see justice served. With gripping narrative force that reads like fiction, The Monsanto Papers takes readers behind the scenes of a grueling legal battle, pulling back the curtain on the frailties of the American court system and the lengths to which lawyers will go to fight corporate wrongdoing.
About the Author
Investigative journalist Carey Gillam has spent more than 25 years reporting on corporate America, including 17 years working for Reuters international news agency. Her 2017 book about pesticide dangers, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, won the 2018 Rachel Carson Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists and has become a part of the curriculum in several university environmental health programs. Gillam is currently Research Director for the non-profit consumer group U.S. Right to Know.
"The author builds a convincing case that Monsanto was more interested in protecting the reputation of its cash cow than heeding scientific evidence of its dangerous properties. Gillam is especially good at rendering the complex dynamics of the legal personalities, which adds a further humanizing dimension to Johnson’s story…An authoritative takedown of a corporation that evidently cares little for public health."
— Kirkus Reviews
“The Monsanto Papers is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the dangers of glyphosate to human health and the corrupt system of corporate and political influence that enabled Monsanto to sell its toxic weed killer for decades….fascinating cast… gripping tale, and Gillam, a master storyteller and investigative reporter, brings them to life in vivid detail.”
“Gillam narrates an of-the-moment reckoning with a major corporation whose products have been marketed as safe since the 1970s. As an examination of both corporate malfeasance and legal maneuvering in torts cases, Gillam's book personifies the need for consumer protections and safety.”
"A fast-paced, engaging account of how Monsanto and Bayer’s fortunes changed dramatically in such a short span of time...a gripping read that provides an easy-to-follow explanation of how this litigation unfolded, how the jurors reached their verdict and why Bayer appears to be, in effect, throwing up a white flag now.”
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"A blockbuster, right up there with page-turning thrillers by John Grisham....[I] cannot recommend it highly enough...fabulously written—an important book."
— Marion Nestle
"Carey Gillam’s new book offers an up-close look at Lee Johnson’s landmark legal victory against the agrochemical giant everyone loves to hate."
— Modern Farmer
"The Monsanto Papers blends science and human tragedy with courtroom drama in the style of John Grisham. It is a story of corporate malfeasance on a grand scale – a chilling revelation of the chemical industry’s greed, arrogance, and reckless disregard for human life and the health of our planet. It is a must read."
— Philip J. Landrigan, MD, Director, Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good, Boston College
"A powerful story, well told, and a remarkable work of investigative journalism. Carey Gillam has written a compelling book from beginning to end, about one of the most important legal battles of our time."
— Lukas Reiter, TV executive and writer for "The Blacklist," "The Practice," and "Boston Legal"
"A great read, a page turner. I was totally engrossed by the deception, distortions, and lack of decency of the company."
— Linda S. Birnbaum, Former Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, and Scholar in Residence, Duke University
"A powerful book that sheds light on Monsanto and others who have been untouchable for so long!"
— John Boyd Jr., Founder and President, National Black Farmers Association