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End of the Line: The Rise and Fall of AT&T Hardcover – August 2, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Some factual innaccuracies that could have easily been corroborated however also some interesting material on the very brief Walters reign.
Relevant terms including Packet Switching verses Circuit Switching, the Death of Distance, and the Last Mile were the future for communications and for AT&T. Packet switching would obsolete those multi-million AT&T switches. Death of Distance meant a long distance call from New York to Washington costs no more than a call from New York to Australia. - a stunning relevation of that time with serious consequences for AT&T's entire future. The Last Mile was a bottleneck that would restrict access to maybe 97% of the installed fiber optic backbone, restrict computer use, and result in a Federal 1996 Communications law to break the stifling of technology (including a stifled 1981 technology called ADSL).
"The Rise and Fall of AT&T" must discuss this. Instead it discusses personalities, pettiness, and speculations of corporate executives who (if the book was insightful) had little grasp - no idea - of basic industry technologies. Decisions such as buying two cable companies without learning that the infrastructure was defective should have at least been discussed. Who did not have a clue? Gross technical mismanagement by AT&T corporate executives was that flagrant and is not discussed by Cauley. Instead Cauley's book discusses how they felt.
Somehow the AT&T story is only about infighting among personalities as if that was important. The book ignores gross technical ignorance by AT&T management who had little if any technology grasp.Read more ›
Ms. Cauley shrewdly shapes her narrative around the two things readers care about, namely, plot and character. You couldn't find a much better plot. One of the world's greatest companies, one that truly made a difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people, is faced with difficult, fundamental choices. Through an escalating series of stupendous blunders and poor decisions, the company chooses badly and seals its doom. Even though you know the outcome, you keep wanting to know what happens on the next page. That's a credit to the liveliness of Ms. Cauley's writing.
The plot is good, but the characters are even better. Ms. Cauley creates some wonderfully detailed sketches of the senior executives at the heart of this drama. These men emerge as extraordinarily complex and compelling figures who are anything but the sterotypically one-dimensional man in the gray flannel suit.
Most compelling of all, perhaps, is C. Michael Armstrong, who was brought in to save AT&T and ends up presiding over its death. He ultimately reminds one of King Lear, howling on the heath at the utter whimsy and injustice of the universe.
Even if you never worked at AT&T, as I did for twenty years, you will enjoy this utterly fascinating and ultimately sad book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was there for much of this story and very much enjoyed the trip down memory lanePublished 12 months ago by Jeffrey R Cohen
I once read the book almost after it's debut and was intrigued by it. I remember in finance class that the instructor posed a thought provoking question to the class as to list... Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by Bunny
Very well written book about how AT&T became so powerful, and then how they lost their ability to stay that way. Read morePublished on June 29, 2013 by sean lee
The book arrived promptly as if it was almost new. The Amazon description was accurate and useful when I made the decision to buy this most interesting retrospective of my former... Read morePublished on July 7, 2009 by Mac Maven
Not of the same caliber as Ms. Cauley's "Optical Illusions", but a good read nonetheless. If you're not part of the the turbulent telecom industry, this is not your cup of tea. Read morePublished on January 14, 2007 by John Adams
How did the Big Bell collapse? This book gives you the answer. From the government break up of the monopoly to the sheer ineptitude of its managers this book shows what happened... Read morePublished on December 17, 2006 by Lehigh History Student
Well written, easy to read. Fascinating look at the executive culture of AT&T and its peers.Published on August 3, 2006 by John Doe
As a retired AT&T employee, I found this book very gripping in describing the downfall of this great company. Read morePublished on March 6, 2006 by Gerald Arnst