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Birthright: Murder, Greed, and Power in the U-Haul Family Dynasty Hardcover – September 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 425 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (September 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688112552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688112554
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the sordid story of the family of L. S. Schoen, the one-time migrant worker who, having founded the $4-billion U-Haul trailer and truck rental empire, saw his dynastic dreams shattered by feuding among the 13 offspring of his four marriages, culminating in the sensational, unsolved 1990 murder of a daughter-in-law in Telluride, Colo. Using access to Schoen pere , other relatives and their personal documents, Watkins ( Evil Intentions ), dramatically recounts how the family, dominated by Schoen's driving personality, was evidently riven by maniacal greed, leading to a succession of boardroom fights, lawsuits and financial crises that diminished the company's profits and ruined lives. Of his entanglement with sons Joe and Mark, who fought with their brothers and ousted him as chairman, Schoen came to say "I created a monster." The family of the slain sister-in-law, Eva Berg Schoen, have offered a $250,000 reward for information concerning the murder. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Watkins ( High Crimes and Misdemeanors , LJ 4/1/90; Evil Intentions , LJ 2/1/92) here chronicles the lives of the L.S. Shoen family and the growth of the U-Haul empire. Shoen founded U-Haul with a single trailer in 1945 and directed the company's growth until he was ousted from leadership by a rival faction, led by two of his sons, in the mid-1980s. The battle for control of the company is still being fought, and the unsolved murder of Eva Shoen (wife of one of Schoen's sons) has added to the intrigue of this bitter family feud. Watkins used interviews, family letters, and legal documents in preparing this book, and some of these materials are included. Although Watkins addresses the restrictions that prevented him from revealing certain sources, some readers will undoubtedly wish that better documentation had been provided. Recommended for libraries with true crime collections; less appropriate for business collections.
- Mark McCullough, Heterick Lib. , Ohio Northern Univ. , Ada
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By blowfly13 on August 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book was so well done that I trouble putting it down. It's a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, with the quotation from King Lear at the beginning being perfectly appropriate. The evil Joe's struggles against his father also reminded me of Richard and Henry II, and Mordred and Arthur, although less of the latter, because L.S. Shoen was not the hero that Arthur was. Shoen made some incredible mistakes: dividing up his company so that his children had control, and he had only 2% of the stock; incredible sensitivity and selfishness toward his children after his first wife died; spoiling Joe and Mark and refusing to let them suffer any consequences for bad or even horrible behavior (a classic formula for creating sociopaths); continual attempts to force his children to participate in the U-Haul company despite lack of interest or incompetence; and refusing to see that Joe and Mark had serious emotional and mental problems.

However, as the story goes on you begin to feel really sorry for the guy. He starts to see the tragedy he has helped created, and takes possibly even too much responsibility for it. On the other hand, you don't feel sorry for Joe and Mark for long after their mother dies - these appear to be some seriously despicable and sociopathic men who bully and threaten and lie their way to ultimate power. They both seem so insane that you can't figure out why it took so long for their father and other siblings to see it. The dialog from one shareholder meeting led by Joe seems to be have been produced verbatim and is almost comical at times; it reads like a mixture of the Mad Hatter's tea party and the conch meetings in the Lord of the Flies.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jacob H. Huebert on October 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
_Birthright_ tells the story of U-Haul founder L.S. Shoen, who built one of America's great success stories, only to have it all taken away from him by one of his sons, in a bitter dispute that ended with the murder of Mr. Shoen's innocent daughter-in-law.
While _Birthright_ is non-fiction, it reads like a page-turning novel. Though Watkins' style occasionally leaves something to be desired, the story that comes through is a tragic family saga worthy of comparison to _The Godfather_.
Of course, truth is often stranger than fiction, and in this case, it is less pleasant. Few Hollywood villains are as flagrantly despicable as Edward J. "Joe" Shoen, the son who turned against his father and runs U-Haul to this day. You may have trouble believing that a human being could behave this way. But it's all here, and, unfortunately for the late L.S. Shoen and the late, murdered Eva Berg Shoen, it's all true.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Just read the book. Wonderful!. The U-haul brothers now running the company are pitiless creatures who will step over ANY family in order to save their own shameful faces. Thank you, Mr. Watkins for this insight into the closets of a family blessed with the inheritance of an American icon.
Mr. Watkins, I hope a follow-up on this family will inspire you to continue with another book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pie on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is the best true crime book I have ever read. At the heart is a very interesting murder case and there are people who do not believe that it was ever solved. Whatever the case, the family story is hair-raising in many parts and heart breaking in others. Very sad story about the father, Leonard Samuel Shoen, from the "greatest generation", who founded the U-Haul corporation and grew it over decades . The book discusses the death of Shoen's wife when the children were young and the chaotic years that followed as they grew up. Equally sad is the story of the murder of the wife of the oldest son who had trained to become a physician but agreed to go to work for his father. That son remained loyal to the father along with half of the other siblings. This devotion, and their desire to sell the company in order to end family discord, created friction with the other siblings who seized control and threw their father out of the company he had started.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jenjay on December 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
well im stilling reading it but i work for the company and to read things like this it makes you think but its ok as long as i have a job
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