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Pride Before the Fall: The Trials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era Hardcover – January 9, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like other "totemic firms" of recent years, Microsoft attained astounding power and profitability in stunningly short order--along with a slew of rivals who desperately wanted it broken into less threatening pieces. Few really believed it would happen when the U.S. Department of Justice first began looking into its operations, however, which made the eventual judgment against the company even more significant. "The humbling of Microsoft is the last great business story of the 20th century and the first great riddle of the 21st," writes John Heilemann in Pride Before the Fall, his insightful examination of the epic antitrust battle that began as a Wired magazine cover story. "There are fancier ways of putting it," he adds, "but the riddle is: how did it happen?" In the pages that follow, Heilemann examines the behind-the-scenes machinations that drove United States v. Microsoft, based largely on exclusive interviews he conducted with Bill Gates and his top lieutenants, Justice Department prosecutor Joel Klein, special trial counsel (and lead Democratic Florida recount litigator) David Boies, Intel chief Andy Grove, Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy, and various "unknown soldiers" who arguably played the biggest role of all. With Microsoft's future still uncertain, Pride helps reset the tone in a case that will shape our high-tech future. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

HNavigating the myriad twists and turns of the landmark antitrust suit against Microsoft, Heilemann forges a gripping, breakneck account of contemporary law applied to business conduct, peopled with rival visionaries, guardians of the public interest and brilliant trial lawyers. A former staff writer for the New Yorker and the Economist, Heilemann covered the case as a special correspondent for Wired in November; this is an expanded version of that extensive article. Having gained the trust of almost every major player, Heilemann vividly depicts the adversaries and their positions. In July 2000, Bill Gates told him, "We believe that what we've done is absolutely pro-competitive, and it's our right to stick up for that." Joel Klein, the Justice Department's assistant attorney general during the trial, is equally forthcoming: "What we found in Microsoft was a serious pattern of practices and behavior that... was predatory, lawless, and indefensible." Heilemann's insight into the legal process and his analysis of Gates's videotaped deposition, overseen by chief government counsel David Boies (now representing Vice-President Gore on ballot issues), are themselves worth the price of admission. Wherever readers' sympathies lie, Heilemann's careful timeline illuminates the points at which the case could have been settled. With journalistic panache, Heilemann explicates the reasons that both sides chose to await the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals in spring 2001. (Jan. 23) Forecast: A major marketing campaign including national print and broadcast coverage as well as author appearances in West Coast cities will raise this title's profile. Display alongside U.S. v. Microsoft: The Inside Story of the Landmark Case by New York Times reporters Joel Brinkley and Steve Lohr could draw people to both titles, with the edge probably going to Heilemann's book.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Collins Business; 1st edition (January 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066621178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066621173
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Heilemann is the national political correspondent and columnist for New York magazine. An award-winning journalist and the author of Pride Before the Fall: TheTrials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era, he is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, Wired, and The Economist. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
PRIDE BEFORE THE FALL relays the trials of Microsoft from a different point of view than Auletta's account. Heilemann's access to the key players, many of whom are unknown to the general public and received nary a headline, is just excellent. If you're going to read only one book about the Microsoft trials, this is it.
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Format: Hardcover
Pride Before the Fall is an excellent account of a company brought to its knees as much by its megalomaniac founder Bill Gates, as by the brilliant David Boies and the DOJ. Yet with all the overwhelming evidence of its guilt as outlined in the Findings of Fact on the case, as well as the "avowedly pro-Microsoft economists, culled from a list provided by the company itself - who flayed the firm for not conceding the obvious: that it did indeed try to eliminate competitors; that it was indeed a monopoly." Yet astonishingly, to this day Microsoft continues to believe, in the words of its CEO Steve Ballmer, "We have done nothing wrong." HELLO? Heilemann is by no means a Silicon Valley Microsoft-Basher. He also chronicles the ways in which the valley's elite (Sun,Intel,Apple) clandestinely provided witnesses and encouragement for the DOJ's attack on Microsoft. This case really has nothing to do with inhibiting Microsoft's abillity to innovate(as their PR spin doctors would like you to believe)but rather Microsoft's behavior and lack of contrition. A good, quick and balanced read.
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By A Customer on January 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've tired of explaining to people the Bill Gates/Microsoft monopoly to non-techies. I'm very surprised and happy of this writer's grasp of the core subject and lays it out in an interesting manner. Most books gloss over the "real" Bill Gates preferring to stick with his promotional machine's image but not this one.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinarily lucid, crisply-written account of the Microsoft trial and the circumstances leading up to it. Heilemann sets the scene with masterful depictions of the environment in Silicon Valley and especially at Microsoft, as well as of the various characters involved. Be aware, however, that this fascinating charting of Microsoft's rise to power and the complicated road to eventual government prosecution takes up almost 2/3 of the book. The subsequent trial scenes, while highly entertaining, may seem short by comparison.
Heilemann covered the case as a reporter and interviewed practically all the major players. The result is a balanced, even tale in which Heilemann remains mostly objective but is still able to comment critically and insightfully on the happenings. The story, even with its high level of depth, is propelled quickly by Heilemann's sophisticated writing, replete with erudite metaphors and colorful quotations.
Any recent books about the Microsoft case are handicapped to a certain degree because the appeals process is not over and a final remedy, yet to be determined. Still, this book provides an excellent foundation for understanding future developments in the case, as well as simply a great read. Heilemann truly makes the trial, and the world, of Microsoft, come alive.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was more than "based on" the Wired article, it was the Wired article. I read both the article and the book, and in my opinion there was very little added to the book. I would suggest buying the Wired Magazine that had this article, ... .
Excluding that, the book was well written and entertaining, but somewhat disappointing. The amount of access the author had provided great visibility into the trial, but I felt the author squandered that information. There was very little analysis, and often the author missed humorous/interesting snippets that other books/articles had picked up (e.g. in "The New New Thing" and Upside's news coverage of the trial).
This book felt more like a synapse or a chronology, and it left me wanting more...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book puts out a lot of factual information while keeping the read interesting. I've used this in a college ethics class, and most students liked it. I know of an attorney's office that used it to familiarize their staff with the case.

The book is biased against Microsoft, but shows enough of their side that it doesn't come across as a shallow review. Lot's of interviews keep the book interesting.
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