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Storming the Magic Kingdom Paperback – September, 1991


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Paperback, September, 1991
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 1991)
  • ISBN-10: 999114157X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9991141572
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,571,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Disney is once again a golden name in Hollywood, but three years ago that wasn't the case, prompting a Disney family rift that erupted in a struggle for company control. But what Disney insiders saw as a mismanaged family business looked to Wall Street like a prime takeover candidate; the family squabble set off a chain of events that had such formidable financiers as Saul Steinberg, the Bass Brothers, even Ivan Boesky grappling for keys to the Magic Kingdom. Taylor, of Manhattan Inc., provides a detailed, conference-call-by-conference-call account of the ensuing paper war, in a narrative as fast-paced and exciting as a classic Disney adventure, with the company itself playing the Hayley Mills part: the imperiled, innocent heroine who at the end emerges harried but unharmedand more than a little wiser for the wear. Keeping financial jargon to a minimum, Taylor makes the Byzantine mechanics of contemporary finance easy to follow, shedding light on the takeover phenomenon and on the risks facing companies whose dearest assets are the creative talents of their employees. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. It almost reads like fiction. The behind the scenes dealings that involved the attempted hostile take over of the Walt Disney Company reveal the inner workings of the corporate raiding frenzy in a way that even the novice can understand.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Stamper VINE VOICE on February 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here is a book that describes the corporate aspects of the Walt Disney Company, focusing on the changes that took place in the mid 1980's when the company was on the verge of being taken over by mega rich businessmen and split into 500 small companies. Ultimately, the company was preserved as one and Michael Eisner took over as CEO.
When it comes to Disney, I am not normally interested in the details of big business and high finance, but I found this book quite interesting. It's hard to believe a company that "all began with a mouse" has grown into such a massive empire of million and sometimes billion dollar deals.
I wish someone would write a comprehensive book on the deals that Roy and Walt Disney had to pull off in the early years. Although, less money was involved back then, I am sure their deals were no less heroic or risky.
If you like Disney, it's worth a read. If you're a student or professional of finance, there is much to be learned therein.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan D. Cranford VINE VOICE on June 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In the early 1980's Walt Disney Productions was coasting along on the inertia of Walt and Roy Disney. Corporate raiders scented blood and began stalking.

John Taylor made corporate history interesting. The sterile world of money-grubbing capitalism provides the funding for production--but sometimes the "bottom line" people see only green and forget how they got there. "Storming the Magice Kingdom" details why and how Roy E. Disney (Roy O.'s son and Walt's nephew) got Michael Eisner to take over as Disney's CEO. Copyright 1987 means that the book's data ended somewhere in 1986, before the Golden Age of "The Lion King" and other great animated features of the early 1990's, before Frank Wells died in a helicopter crash, before Michael Eisner fell out with most of his friends and co-workers, before the big anti-Disney boycots...

Funny--Walt Disney Productions was going to be bought out when its stock was $47 a share (in 1984 dollars)--I just checked my Disney stock and it's around $25 a share, down $10 from what I paid for it in 1998. If I was as enamored of money as I am with books and movies, I'd be put out. Will corporate raiders return? Who is the next Michael Eisner?

I was only ten when Walt Disney died, and only fifteen when Roy O. Disney died. I'd rather see another Walt and Roy Disney--visionaries. Roy E. Disney and his brain trust forced changes on the Disney Company--one of these changes was Michael Eisner. It saved the company from break-up, especially the animation department. Today, the Disney Company has gotten out of the traditional hand-drawn 2D animation--the bean counters say "too expensive!" Look at the motion picture industry--theater receipts down for the third year in a row.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Only-A-Child VINE VOICE on October 21, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hard to believe it has been over 20 years since the events John Taylor documents in "Storming the Magic Kingdom" took place. The 1980's saw a surge of takeovers (and almost takeovers) by corporate raiders whose analysis of certain organizations showed undervaluation of their stock relative to their asset value if broken up. Often these activities ended in "greenmail", with the corporation buying back the raider's stock holding at a premium-then being sued by the shareholders who were not given the same opportunity.

Taylor documents how Disney was greenmailed by financier Saul Steinberg in 1984. But once this threat was neutralized they realized that the financial situation that had attracted Steinberg would soon attract other raiders. The book details Disney's efforts to insure that they would no longer be so vulnerable; including replacing their top management with a new team modeled on the division of responsibility (creative and financial) so successful for Walt and his brother Roy.

This is quite simply the most interesting business book I have ever read. Taylor provides a detailed, conference-call-by-conference-call account of the internal decision making process. The book is interesting not just because of the subject company and the drama of a family divided, but because Taylor is a great storyteller and his account reads much like a novel. Although it is likely that some of Taylor's sources provided self-serving accounts of their activities, he had the cooperation of most of the principals involved and seems to have done a good job of sifting through any conflicting accounts and extracting the most likely version.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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