Customer Reviews: Media Man: Ted Turner's Improbable Empire (Enterprise)
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on September 7, 2005
This book provides a short but insightful biography of Ted Turner, the southern businessman known for his business acquisitions, media influence, sports franchises, and Jane Fonda. The book lays out the private and public life of Ted Turner from his birth to his recent donation of $10 billion US to the UN. Included in it are chapters on his schooling, his relationship with his father, his marriage to Jane Fonda, his entry into the media market culminating with CNN, and his later entry into progressive politics.

The book is easy to read and filled with colorful insights into his life. Major financial and business ventures are covered in detail, with analysis of both legal and money aspects. The book is well referenced, drawing info from interviews with Mr. Turner, his friends and family, and secondary sources such as other books and newspaper articles. The book can be read in 1 day or less, and I recommend reading it.
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on August 27, 2005
Media Man by noted media journalist Ken Auletta gives the casual media novice a fine overview of the personality, passions, and career highlights of Ted Turner, a man who transformed television by making 24-hour cable news a force with which to be reckoned and helping make cable per se almost a household necessity.

An interesting point of his business personality as depicted in this book is that he's not afraid to take risks, yet is supposedly very uncomfortable with debt. So why did he practically mortgage his company in an effort to acquire CBS? The reasoning isn't really fleshed out to a satisfying degree. All we really take away from this account is how he desperately wanted to expand into broadcast network television; not on how such a massive and high-profile acquisition would benefit viewers, shareholders, and employees. Taken in context with the entirety of the book, one concludes that the move was as much ego-driven as Turner would maintain that it was driven to create cost-efficiencies. We also don't get a clear sense of what's behind his fervent anti-unionism and vaunted parsimony, only that they were definite traits.

While getting a taste of his upbringing and subsequent family life is interesting as background, probably the most compelling part of this book is Turner's boardroom battles as part of Time Warner, and later AOL-Time Warner. Here we get a true sense of the personalities and motivations at work, and at odds, within the changing paradigms of corporate media. It's this that made the book worth reading and where Auletta shines as a writer--the kind of writing that made Three Blind Mice so noteworthy and memorable.

At only about 180 pages, it's difficult to recommend this book at full list price, or even Amazon's substantially discounted price, but a used or library copy is definitely worth the time to get to know a little more of this broadcasting and entertainment pioneer.
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on February 14, 2005
I picked this book up at a competing brick and mortar book store. I did so mainly to learn why CNN had been dethroned by FoxNews, and also because I had an interest in the man credited with the invention of 24-hour news.

Overall, the book was satisfying. Turner's life is covered rather well, but the details are missing. Every chapter seems more of a summary of something larger than a fact-filled chapter that it is intended to be. Then again, I wasn't expecting a thorough biography given its scant 180 pages.

Regardless, this book will give you a good idea of the man that is Turner. Why did he strive for greatness? Why did he create CNN? How and why did he lose CNN and his fortune? Why is his heart set on world peace? These questions - and others - are neatly answered.
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How does a guy who sells billboards create a media empire? In 2001, author Ken Auletta won a National Magazine Award for his profile of media mogul Ted Turner in `The New Yorker'. In this book, he expands this profile, giving colorful detail about the remarkable life of the colorful, outspoken and complicated business cowboy. Auletta shows that Turner is shocking, abrasive and driven, but he rarely goes more deeply into Turner's motivations than to explain his rebellion against his father. The book chronicles Turner's revolutionary, meteoric creation of a cable empire, including the nation's first cable superstation, and the founding of CNN. It follows Turner as Time Inc., gobbles up his thriving company. Auletta takes a hard look at the personalities that engineered the formation of AOL Time Warner, then the world's biggest media company. Unfortunately, at this point, Auletta becomes preoccupied with the dealmakers and - like AOL TW - places Turner on the back burner. This is just a detour, however, from his compelling portrayal of a corporate superstar who ran his business from his gut. We recommend this fascinating read.
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on February 18, 2015
Great read how one man help change the way news is cover
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on May 17, 2005
He was a visionary, wanting to conquer the world like his first hero, Alexander the Great. He conquered the media world with CNN and TNT. My hero was General MacArthur; he too conquered the world with his determination and fighting spirit. His "I shall return" was a war cry and a promise.

I was drawn to this book because I appreciate his sponsoring GODS & GENERALS, a Civil War movie with the South's viewpoint in which there were many generals, but God let us down. He spent $55 million of his own money to produce this masterpiece.

Ted's grandfather was a sharecropper in Mississippi, and yet Ted was born in Cincinnati, Ohio (Nick Clooney's town). His father was a dictator, which caused Ted to have mood swings and a ferocious temper.

When married to Jane Fonda (1991-2001), he secluded himself in an efficiency apartment "penthouse" atop the CNN Center Building in Atlanta. Previously, he had slept in his office. She was window dressing and traveling companion. He owned at that time an 8,000-acre Florida estate, cattle and sheep ranches in Montana, New Mexico and Argentina. Who knows what else? Anyway, he kept her 'in style' and it was observed that she was his "equal" -- she was different. He treated her with a lot of respect. She had been an anti-war activist, movie star, and daughter of Henry Fonda. What else could he ask for? But, every cloud sooner or later bursts and a thunderstorm ensues.

His motto is "You cannot give up hope... The situation is hopeless -- but I might be wrong." He's had an exciting life, but not much luck in the marriage department, like Peter Fonda. Now, he can rest on his laurels. I enjoyed seeing the photo of the young Ted Turner with "no perfect teeth" and in the straw bowler hat. He was a dandy back then. Thank you, TT for GODS AND GENERALS. Thank you, Ken A. for a good bio. He overcame all odds and he is "somebody of stature."
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