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Like one of the roller coasters at DisneyLand, Stewart's epic book takes readers through a wild up-and-down ride as it describes Eisner's regime as CEO. The tale begins with Eisner's early successes rejuvenating Disney's live-action movie franchise and theme parks, the kickoff of the modern animation era with blockbuster hits like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, and the cultivation of a highly talented cadre of lieutenants, which reads like a Who's Who of executive talent now dispersed across the Fortune 500: Stephen Bollenbach (Hilton Hotels), Steve Burke (Comcast), Geraldine Laybourne (Oxygen Media), Richard Nanula (Amgen), Joe Roth (Revolution Studios), and so on. Stewart makes clear that Eisner has had a major eye for strong creative content himself, both as a young executive in his pre-Disney years at ABC and at Paramount Pictures and more recently in building partnerships like Disney's extremely lucrative one with Pixar.
Just as he credits Eisner for various Disney successes, though, Stewart assigns blame for the failures, too. The thoroughly researched 534 pages of DisneyWar make clear that his overall verdict on the CEO is negative. Much of the book describes detailed and specific interactions between Eisner and his rivals. Readers interested in the entertainment industry or in the personalities which drive it will not be disappointed. The blow-by-blow accounts of Eisner's feuds with Dreamworks SKG founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was his chief aide for nearly two decades, and Michael Ovitz, the superagent from CAA who had been friends with Eisner for even longer than that, are amazingly detailed. They show Eisner to be creative, funny, and charming when he wants to be--and devious, dishonest, and horribly Machiavellian when he doesn't.
Though dispassionate in his writing, Stewart assembles a withering portrait of Eisner as a grasping, self-centered, manipulative, and ultimately self-destructive executive. He shows how the Disney CEO has consistently undercut his potential successors within the company, in many cases drawing on Eisner's own writings and conversations with board members. He shows how Eisner's erratic attitude towards paying severance to former employees--in some cases being overly stubborn (as with Katzenberg, to whom he had a chance to close out for $90 million, but whom Disney ended up paying $280 million) and in others being shockingly lenient (as with Ovitz, who received a $140 million golden parachute after one relatively ineffective year at the company). He shows the overreach of grandiose projects like Euro Disney, and the missed opportunities like Lord of the Rings, Sopranos, and Survivor, on all of which Disney passed.
In the end, Stewart has returned with DisneyWar to what he does best: drilling into a murky and complex subject, capturing an enormous amount of detail through personal interviews, emails, memos, court records, and other data sources, and then weaving together a rich tapestry of people and events to bring others to the same conclusions he has clearly reached himself. Though some readers might tire of the reams of detail Stewart offers--at certain points, the book reads like a gossip rag, with intricate he-said, she-said accounts of individual meetings--most will enjoy it. Beyond the entertainment value, this book also has serious value to students of corporate governance, as it presents a scathing portrait of Disney's captive board of directors and shows what happens with the lack of proper CEO oversight. --Peter Han --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
My husband and I have been listening to the booktape over the last two months on our ride to/from work and this story has sparked much discussion, debate and wonder. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Richard F. Gore
This is such an interesting book. Once I started to read it, I could not put it down. It really helps you to understand who the big players are and what goes on the scenes in the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Suzhoukid32
Loved the book, first political book I have enjoyed. The background to Disney as a corporation was great and a surprise to me!Published 1 month ago by Erin H.
This is one of my favorite books. The reason that I like it so much is that you get to see the rise and fall of one of the most respected CEOs. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sean Walcott
I'll try to make this simple and effective at the same time. I worked for Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts and learned a lot of things very quickly, though I had a vast amount... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Justin Henderson
This is a very detailed account of Michael Eisner's tenure as CEO of Disney. Eisner's rise and fall is meticulously chronicled. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike Chartowich
I'm still reading the book. And I'm divided about what to say. In one hand, here we have the story of a company when the second/third generation become to manage all the stuff... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Antonio AB
I can summarize the book this way: "Eisner is an ass. Katzenberg is an ass. Somehow, Disney survived." The boardroom machinations were interesting... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Annalogue
This is an older book, but contains great information. I'm a Disney fan but also in the "industry" and can be objective. Read morePublished 6 months ago by D. Hurst