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The Highwaymen Paperback – June 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

Few industries can grab the world's attention these days--and hold the promise of totally reshaping its future--like communications. Bestselling author Ken Auletta profiles many of the field's leading lights in great depth in The New Yorker, and 17 of his most compelling essays since 1992 have been collected in a book that offers close-up details as well as long-range perspectives on movers and shakers such as Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, and Ted Turner. Available in paperback, The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Superhighway has been extensively revised and expanded since its original publication. --Howard Rothman

From Library Journal

In his latest work, Auletta (Three Blind Mice, LJ 9/15/91) covers the people behind some of the changes in the communications industry from 1992 through 1996. Those profiled include Rupert Murdoch, John Malone, and Barry Diller. Auletta examines issues such as changing technology, FCC regulation, censorship, and the erosion of independent journalism, focusing on the traditional media of television, movies, and print; only the final article deals with the Internet. The author had extensive access to industry leaders through interviews and attending internal meetings. The book's 16 articles, which appeared previously in the New Yorker, are tied together by the introduction; each has a postscript updating events to early 1997. Auletta offers most perceptive insights into the communications industry, along with a clear and entertaining writing style. Recommended for all readers.
-?Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books/Harcourt, Brace and Company; 1st Harvest ed edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156005735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005739
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,164,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ken Auletta has written the Annals of Communications column for The New Yorker since 1992. He is the author of eight books, including THREE BLIND MICE: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way; GREED AND GLORY ON WALL STREET: The Fall of The House of Lehman; and WORLD WAR 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies. In naming him America's premier media critic, the Columbia Journalism Review said, "no other reporter has covered the new communications revolution as thoroughly as has Auletta." He lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Ken Auletta already proved with Three Blind Mice--his book about the Big Three traditional broadcast networks--that he's a dogged reporter. Few thoughts, musings, or nuances of expression go unrecorded. "The Highwaymen" continues in that tradition. Auletta aims to offer some sense of the men (and they're almost all male) who make the decisions about what the rest of us will be seeing, listening to and seeking for entertainment and how that software will be delivered. He delivers well-wrought profiles of these people through their deeds--which often contrast with their words, and that tension is illuminating. Finally, at the end of each piece are postscripts which offer the reader a scorecard; which of the fearless mogul's bold predictions came true, which crashed a burned: everybody thought interactive/VOD TV was going to take off--so far, it's been a stalled cash-disposal scheme that sucks in capital with no discernable result. The point is that for all their visionary claims, these people are no better at predicting the future than anybody else. If you missed the original pieces as they ran in The New Yorker and have an interest in the thinking (or lack thereof) behind movies like Basic Instinct or any of Oliver Stone's noxious fantasies, buy the book
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Auren Hoffman on January 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting series of past news features on the media business. The book chronicles some of the most fascinating media personalities from Rupert Murdoch to Herb Allen to Barry Diller to John Malone to Edgar Bronfman Jr. to Bill Gates. This is a fascinating book by a guy who was given incredible access by a large number of media executives. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Highwaymen, Warriors of the Information Superhighway, Ken Auletta; Harcourt, Brace & Co. (1998 paperback)

Ken Auletta's collection of seventeen TNY pieces (possibly all from the 1990's) allegedly comprises "an unparalleled view of the media power brokers as they compete to control the global information empire & the entertainment industry."

Diller, Malone, Turner, Bronfman, Murdoch, Gates, & Levin are profiled. Say, if this is "global," what happened to the INTERnational business moguls (a rhetorical question; don't answer).

Also noted is an innocent oversight: The New Yorker magazine's owner, Si Newhouse, is not included in this august rodeo of manly businesspeople. Not a media power broker, I guess.

What's also missing --- in a book that is almost useless without it, due to the literally hundreds of lesser figures involved in the careers of these creepy expense-account miscreants --- is, Here We Go Again, an index.

Related matters: The table of contents is mis-centered on the page & each article listed in it is undated. Further inquiry led to the discovery that the dates of publication do appear on the title pages of the respective articles. Given this investigative lead, our operatives at Kroll did a comparison of these title pages, which revealed that the articles WEREN'T arranged in chronological order.

This means that you might come across a passing reference to an event on page 125 that doesn't make any sense to you until you read about what had happened, in definitive detail, on page 200 (this is practically inevitable, given that those profiled are the seven scorpions in a bottle, doing battle with each other for turf, profits and prestige.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr. on June 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
The highway being described in this book is the information superhighway and the people being discussed are its developers. Jumping to the postscript at the very end, Auletta observes "while the Highwaymen enjoy immense power, they remain vulnerable" (p. 355). This is the paradox presented throughout the book. The regulators, entrepreneurs, and public do a dance of vulnerability in the development of the new technologies as niches are being carved out. One of the realities of corporate growth is that as they become large, they sometimes lose the freshness associated with risk and creativity. Auletta says "it becomes more difficult for them to maintain a focus, to make quick decisions, to stay creative" (p. 134).
The ancient concept of pathos is explored in 21st century corporate America. In describing how business decisions are made in Sumner Redstone's organizational culture, he quotes an associate as saying "most deals are fifty percent emotion and fifty percent ecnomics" (p. 61).
Aulette spends a little time on media content, pointing out the hypocrisy of film producer Oliver Stone, who sees his distortions (to be even more accurate fabrications) as "artistic freedom, while he demands strict accuracy from reporters covering him.
The reader is left with numerous insights that would not be attained anywhere else. This book is a worthy read.
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By Ravi Madhavan on May 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book made up of 17 New Yorker articles by Ken Auletta written during the 1990s chronicle the major power players in the media business. I enjoyed reading most of the articles especially the ones involving, Time Warner, Viacom, Disney and News Corp and the media moguls behind them. Auletta focuses in many of the ariticles about "The Human Factor" determining the decisions made at the highest levels. Quite often this factor trumps business factors such as increased revenue and profits. The perfect examples are the firing/resignation of Jeffrey Katzenberg at Disney and Frank Biondi at Viacom. Both made large contributions to their respective companies but in the end their personal relationship with their boss made the difference. Michael Eisner at Disney and Sumner Redstone at Viacom seemed to feel their personal power at risk and therefore decided to go forward without Katzenberg and Biondi. I enjoyed reading them as most of them are very well written and uses the narrative style that most business writing unfortunately does not use enough.
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