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Gods at War: Shotgun Takeovers, Government by Deal, and the Private Equity Implosion Paperback – December 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

While the financial community looks to regain its footing, dealmakers will continue to do what they've always done—structure deals that drive the fate of corporate America. With powerful professionals competing to create and close better deals, these executives, like gods, will determine the future of companies and our economy.

Author Steven Davidoff understands both the intricacies of these deals and the forces driving them. Writing as "The Deal Professor" for the New York Times "DealBook," he provides daily commentary on the latest takeover news and has become a nationally known authority on this fast-moving field. Now, with Gods at War, Davidoff introduces you to this trillion-dollar business—from private equity and government to hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds—and reveals the recent events that have changed the way the game is played.

Gods at War is the definitive story of deal-making. Opening with an engaging look at the evolution of this discipline, the book quickly moves into the modern era—where deal-making has become a truly global endeavor—and works its way through the current financial crisis and beyond. Page by page, it skillfully details:

  • The private equity boom and its implosion

  • The return of the strategic transaction and hostile takeover

  • The failure of the investment banking model

  • The government's deal-making during the recent financial crisis

  • And much more

Each chapter unfolds through the lens of recent events, from the battle between Yahoo! and Microsoft to the United Rentals/Cerberus dispute. Along the way, you'll also become familiar with the federal government's regulation by deal approach to saving the financial system—which included the serial bailouts of AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, and others. In describing the dynamic events of this period, Davidoff not only reveals how deals are accomplished in modern capital markets, but he also details the transformation that the takeover marketplace is undergoing and its prospects for the future. In doing so, he puts forth a definitive view and theory of deals and deal-making.

The financial revolution, globalization, and financial crises have permanently changed deal-making—creating perils and opportunities for both dealmakers and regulators. With Gods at War as your guide, you'll gain a better understanding of this discipline and discover the various events, individuals, and institutions that continue to shape this competitive arena.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"Gods at War brilliantly analyzes the legal issues, the politics, and the players in high-profile merger and acquisition transactions. Steven Davidoff is a master of the tactics and rules of deal-making, and he has once again shown why he is one of the country's most respected legal writers."
—Rob Kindler, Vice Chairman and Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Morgan Stanley

"In Gods at War, Steven Davidoff, aka The Deal Professor, delivers a detailed and lucid treatise of the fascinating historical precedents that resulted in the frenzied deal-making activity that ended abruptly with our current financial crisis and then goes on, in impressive fashion, to discuss what deals will look like in a new era dominated by government ownership and a lack of acquisition financing. Deal practitioners—and those just curious about all the fuss—will want this book at the top of their reading list."
—William D. Cohan, author of House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street and The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.

"Davidoff is one of the most insightful and perceptive minds in the world of deal-making. With an ability to distill the most complicated legal issues into clear prose, he has become a must-read inside the nation's boardrooms and corner offices."
—Andrew Ross Sorkin, Editor of THE New York Times's "DealBook" and author of Too Big to Fail

"Where will M&A go next? Any answer depends on an understanding of the merger wave of 2002–2008, which this book affords. Rich in fresh insights, carefully researched, and well written, Gods at War gives a threshold to the future of M&A. I recommend it to students, practitioners, and fans of high finance."
—Robert F. Bruner, Dean and Charles C. Abbott Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia; author of Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons that Rise Above the Ashes; and coAuthor of The Panic of 1907

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470919027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470919026
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Professor Davidoff is associate professor of law at the University of Connecticut School of Law. His research focus include mergers & acquisitions and deals and deal theory.

Professor Davidoff writes a regular column for The New York Times "DealBook" site as The Deal Professor, which primarily focuses on mergers and acquisitions. He also writes in trade journals, such as the Deal, lectures, has testified before the United States Senate, and is frequently quoted in the national media on issues related to our capital markets and mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to entering academia, Professor Davidoff practiced as an attorney for about 10 years primarily with Shearman & Sterling in its New York and London offices.

Professor Davidoff graduated from the Columbia University School of Law where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, cum laude with honors. He has a master's degree in finance from the London Business School.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By White Collar Crime Guy on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Out of the ruble of the financial meltdown that began in 2008 we're starting to see signs that the market for corporate acquisitions is coming back to life. From Berkshire Hathaway's deal to buy Burlington Northern to Novartis's proposed squeeze-out of the minority shareholders of Alcon, large scale deals are moving to the forefront. Professor Steven Davidoff's Gods at War gives you the background you need to understand the changing landscape of mergers and acquisitions, most importantly the shifting legal ground on which these takeovers take place.

Professor Davidoff teaches law after practicing in the M&A field for a decade, and his book is about the law, but it's not written for lawyers - thankfully. Instead, it is for readers with some understanding of the financial markets and an interest in learning how deals get done, or are thwarted by management and competitors. Most importantly, he explains how new sources of capital, especially private investment pools and hedge funds, are changing the way transactions occur.

As an added bonus, Gods at War provides a nice history of the financial meltdown after the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in 2008. What had once been a private market, with S.E.C. regulation but not much serious interference in the marketplace, has changed into what he calls "Government by Deal." The current financial reform legislation aims to make this a permanent feature of the financial system by giving Washington the power to seize control of large institutions that pose too great a risk to the economy's stability - making permanent the notion of "too big to fail." His assessment of where the deal machinery may be headed looks to be dead on.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David A. Westenberg on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I came to this book from two perspectives: as a corporate deal lawyer, and as an avid student of the art and history of deal-making. This book scores on both fronts. With a clear and engaging style, and an insider's perspective, Gods at War lays bare the inner world of the deals that are shaping our economy and our future. By providing rare insight into the players and dynamics underlying today's mega deals, this book both explains recent events and provides a glimpse at the future of corporate America. If you can read only one book on the topic, this is it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth A. Adams on January 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steven Davidoff is one of the most perceptive observers of the legal side of the M&A world. If you're a corporate lawyer and you aspire to be an active participant in dealmaking rather than a mere scrivener, you should read "Gods at War." With its account of deal mechanics and the recent history of the takeover markets, including what transpired during the financial crisis, it provides a valuable big-picture perspective on how deals are made or not made.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tommi Juusela on February 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The world of deal making has become extremely multifaceted and complex. The unstable business environment, globalization and new phenomena like sovereign wealth funds are permanently changing the landscape of deal making. In "Gods at War," Steven Davidoff cleverly builds a factual narrative that boils down to the question - how will and should deal making be changed? To underline his reasoning, Davidoff pinpoints deficiencies in the legal system and the financing world and even in the personalities of the people in the "deal making machine".

Davidoff writes vividly and explains the complexity and diversity involved in today's deal making with clarity. He is able to convey technical deal details with proselike fluency that often makes "Gods at War" a real page-turner. He draws convincing fact-based conclusions and is able to foresee upcoming trends from scattered data. He colors his narrative with back-of-the-scene stories on recent transactions.

"Gods at War" is a great read for anyone who is involved in the "deal making machine" or who wants to understand its intricacies. It is especially aimed at lawyers, but other professions will also benefit from its insightful view on the changing corporate world. The book sets the scene for deal making in the 2010's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Lenz on May 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been reading Mr. Davidoff's columns for a very long time, so needless to say I was eager to pick up a copy of this book when I came around to it. I found the style of the book,, illustrating key concepts surrounding deal-making structures through real-life (often fast-paced and adversarial) case studies, to be very engaging and informative. In addition, I think that many of his predictions on where M&A would head have at least in part held true. Either way, I would certainly recommend this book.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By wbjonesjr1 on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I had great expectations for "Gods at War". I am an M&A practitioner in Latin America and have followed Professor Davidoff's Deal Professor blog for some time. The legal analysis in the blog is often (way) beyond me, but I appreciate its tremendous insight. My admiration for the blog raised my expectations for "Gods at War".

These expectations proved, most unfortunately, unwarranted. The book tries to weave a thread across the chapters but is clumsy in doing so. It may just have been better to make this a collection of columns. Prof Davidoff tries to make a big deal about the influence of "personality" in transactions. But the evidence he provides for this seems that garnered from reading press clippings on deals, not any insider perspective. The book even had the irriting typo here and there. The lack of editing shows in several chapters: Prof Davidoff tells a takeover story in the first half of a chapter (where things do pick up), and then goes on to sort of paraphrase the messages in the second half. Most grating of all was the comparison of why deals fail or not by comparing Microsoft's handling of Yahoo with InBev's of Anheuser Busch: the conclusions may even be correct but yet again the analyses and evidence provided are unconvincing and unoriginal. All in all the impression I'm ultimately left with is the the book is an attempt to cash in on the success of the blog
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