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The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of At&T Hardcover – October 1, 1986


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum; 1st edition (October 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689117574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689117572
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Crafted with color and drama by an ex-Washington Post staffer, this solid account of the complex events leading to the 1982 AT&T breakup is hard to put down. Coll relates personality, politics, business, and law to bureaucratic maneuvering within and between the government and AT&T. He also assesses the consequences. Based on interviews and documents, the book is a series of short, episodic chapters. Given the effects of the breakup on the consumer, and Coll's stylish telling, the book promises to be broadly appealing. Recommended for academic and public libraries. John Cudd, Western Kentucky Univ., Bowling Green
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Steve Coll is a writer for The New Yorker and author of the Pulitzer Prize- winning Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. He is president of the New America Foundation, a public policy institute in Washington, D.C. Previously he served, for more than twenty years, as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and ultimately as managing editor of The Washington Post. He is also the author of On the Grand Trunk Road, The Deal of the Century, and The Taking of Getty Oil. Coll received a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism and the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for outstanding international print reporting and the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for best magazine reporting from abroad. Ghost Wars, published in 2004, received the Pulitzer for general nonfiction and the Arthur Ross award for the best book on international affairs.

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
Prior to interviewing with a Baby Bell Company, I read The Dealof theCentury. It was not only informative but fascinating. I was able to get a flavor of the personalities involved and internal squabbles that shaped the "deal" involving AT&T. This book is required reading for anybody who wants to understand how we got where we are today in telecommunications. By the way, I got the job.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
As an MBA student interested in telecom, I found this book to be among the best sources of information about telecom regulation. It provides rich detail but is also very readable and only gets technical when necessary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam I Am VINE VOICE on July 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Deal of the Century" was written with the flair and style of the best John Grisham legal thriller, except this story is true. Steve Coll is a talented writer, making what could have been a dry and boring subject, the legal breakup of the world's largest telephone company, into a book that is engaging from the first page to the very last.

The book also offers insight for future business leaders, bosses and company owners - what really got AT&T's goose fried was the company's failure, beginning in the late 1960's to provide decent telephone service to customers. Particularly in Manhattan, the author notes, financial companies couldn't get phones installed in a timely manner, and when the phones were finally installed, connecting wasn't a guarantee. There were so many customers in the late 1960's that AT&T couldn't keep up with the demand for new service.

In some places, telephone service was awful, and there were no choices for consumers to find a better phone company. So these unhappy customers started complaining to their Congressional representatives. This added to the pressure on the Federal Government to do something about the AT&T telephone monopoly.

In the midst of all these unhappy AT&T business telephone customers, an entrepreneur named William McGowan bought a controlling interest in the company which would later be known as MCI Worldcom, and then he began a series of civil lawsuits against AT&T for the right to provide a better telephone service to his own customers. There are good lessons here for any person who works in business and commerce.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DigitalReader on December 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to understand the telecom history, this is something you you should read.

ATT owned every phoen in US before the breakup, imagine the power they had before they were broken.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John E. Drury VINE VOICE on April 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the possible merger of ATT and T Mobile, the 1982 ATT breakup seems to be circular as if revisiting an American telecommunication oligarchy, if not a monopoly. Steve Coll's engrossing and detailed history of that fabled anti trust litigation and its governmental machinations surely is being poured over by some bureaucrat at the FCC, FTC or Department of Justice. The actors in the 1982 break up outshine their present day counterparts in importance and verve; there will be no John deButts, Charles Brown, Bill Baxter, George Saunders or Judge Harold Green. They and others are vividly portrayed along with the bureaucratic clash of swords in the three branches of government; Judge Green, Congress with Peter Rodino and Tim Wirth and Bill Baxter, the anti-trust head at Justice in Reagan's first administration. Coll is relatively fair in his assessment of all the players although he seems overly judgmental to Baxter, who though a law professor, not a court room gladiator, held firm and forced the settlement despite the pressure of other powerful forces in the Reagan administration. What impacts the reader at the end of the book is whether in 2011, thirty years after the litigation and settlement, this break up was good for the United States as a country. Coll, with the perspective of only five years after the events (the book was written in 1986), seems to answer that it was. Tim Wu, in his very fine 2010 book, "The Master Switch," thinks the break up of ATT gave way to an era of technological innovation and progress despite the increase in fees and costs for the average American consumer. The lessons of the break up of this monopoly should be fairly considered in judging the newest merger.
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