- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 3 hours and 2 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: HarperAudio
- Audible.com Release Date: March 29, 2007
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000P46OH4
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco Audible – Abridged
|New from||Used from|
|Free with your Audible trial|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Top Customer Reviews
Overall I enjoyed the book, but I would not recommend it to someone like me who does not have a high degree of financial savvy.
For all of the dollars involved, Barbarians at the Gate is not a story of economics and finance; it is a book about human behavior and politics.
The tale begins with the calculated maneuverings that facilitated Ross Johnson’s ascent to RJR Nabisco’s chief executive office. To tell the story, the authors conducted “marathon” interviews with Johnson and his coterie. They had access even to the company psychologist, “Ross is addicted to action, to a constant dynamism... He can’t always see what effect that has on others.” It is perhaps not the most desirable trait for a CEO, but it is invaluable for a protagonist.
Johnson’s proclivities lead him to a Wall Street negotiating table. The authors describe the bustling 1980s financial environment aptly with the aid of Alice in Wonderland: “[Johnson’s team] had stepped through the looking glass to a place where reality was suspended, where the old numbers, the old rules, the old financial reasoning, simply didn’t apply. Money was paper, and paper was money.”
Johnson and readers both are beguiled by the irrelevance of money on Wall Street. Deals in Wonderland are not driven by money, we discover, but by something bankers call “ancillary benefits,” which seems to be a combination of fame, relationship leverage, revenge, and claptrap. When one bank offers another a fee of $125 million to take a back seat in the deal, it is regarded by the recipients as “the most insulting offer.”
While the bankers’ motives are perplexing, their means are riveting. Barbarians at the Gate is an immaculate telling of an intense battle. The authors have performed remarkable reconstruction of behind-the-scenes dialogue. They capture wisecracks and witticisms, errors of arithmetic, grousing, and flippancy. At times they go beyond dialogue, even reproducing bankers’ soliloquies and silent curses.
Because of the authors’ efforts, readers are privy to the origins, alliances, and rivalries within a group of leading mergers and acquisitions experts with the humdrum alias, “The Group.” We see how Wall Street heavyweights leverage partisanship, manipulate media, and threaten their peers––all to win the deal.
For all of the bankers’ emphatic efforts to win, the climax of Barbarians at the Gate reveals the competition to be melodrama, even ironic. The winner, Henry Kravis, gets “modest returns;” the loser, Peter Cohen, says to his colleague “We’ll get the next one,” in a huff. Twenty-five years later, both are filthy rich.
Barbarians at the Gate is a great tale for anyone interested in business or financial history.
I actually met Theodore Forstmann when I was a teenager and he was in his early twenties, at the Apawamis Club in Rye, NY. I remember it because he got hit with a golf ball. Weird, huh?
Watch the movie also; as with all movies there are some liberties taken but the complete absurdity of the whole event is very skillfully portrayed. It has James Garner as Ross Johnson and it's a natural role for the recently deceased actor. Fred Dalton Thompson is also great as the president of American Express. Worth the time to watch it!