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DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war. With access to both Michael Eisner and Roy Disney, company executives and board members, as well as letters and documents never before seen, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years. DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war. With access to both Michael Eisner and Roy Disney, company executives and board members, as well as letters and documents never before seen, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years.


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DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war. With access to both Michael Eisner and Roy Disney, company executives and board members, as well as letters and documents never before seen, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years. DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war. With access to both Michael Eisner and Roy Disney, company executives and board members, as well as letters and documents never before seen, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years.

30 review for Disney War (Audiofy Digital Audiobook Chips)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    This is the most jaw-dropping business book I've read. The author is invited inside the Disney organization to find out what makes it tick...and discovers it's a time bomb. The opening is the Disney version we've always imagined, with the author experiencing a magical moment while working as a beloved Disney character at one of the Parks. He is then invited to record the inner workings of the Michael Eisner regime...almost at the exact moment when things start to go horribly wrong. What was espe This is the most jaw-dropping business book I've read. The author is invited inside the Disney organization to find out what makes it tick...and discovers it's a time bomb. The opening is the Disney version we've always imagined, with the author experiencing a magical moment while working as a beloved Disney character at one of the Parks. He is then invited to record the inner workings of the Michael Eisner regime...almost at the exact moment when things start to go horribly wrong. What was especially amazing to me is how the author stayed inside to record this. Disney has always been incredibly protective of its brand. Yet, unfolding in these pages is the break with Roy Disney, the court battle with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the war with Steve Jobs, the hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz, and the dethroning of Eisner himself. It is not unlike watching a spectacular train wreck. The author keeps all of the players distinct and the narrative freely flowing. At many points, I kept wondering how he was allowed to stay. But, stay he did and the story is riveting. There is almost a Shakespearian feel to Eisner's fall. He is obviously a man with tremendous business sense, and yet he was oblivious to the disaster forming all around him. This is truly a remarkable book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darcy Conroy

    I listened to this on audiobook, so I'll discuss the content and the production separately. Content: Maybe it's because I'm a trained historian, but I found myself mumbling, sometimes shouting at my kindle: "according to who?" "says who?" "you can't know that was what happened!" There was just too much dramatization in this non-fiction book, too much certainty about people's thoughts, beliefs and conversations to which the author was not privy. I couldn't relax and trust it. Some dialogue is need I listened to this on audiobook, so I'll discuss the content and the production separately. Content: Maybe it's because I'm a trained historian, but I found myself mumbling, sometimes shouting at my kindle: "according to who?" "says who?" "you can't know that was what happened!" There was just too much dramatization in this non-fiction book, too much certainty about people's thoughts, beliefs and conversations to which the author was not privy. I couldn't relax and trust it. Some dialogue is needed to break up non-fiction, sure, but that should be clear transcriptions of interviews about the incidents (preferably from more than one point of view), or recordings from the time. If the author is going to insist upon dramatizing conversations and phone calls (including stage directions!), it needs to made clear upon whose information the author is crafting his scenes - without such attribution, the reader can neither trust the information as truth, nor enjoy it as biased gossip. I hate to say this (as someone who directed audio books for seven years) but I might have to get a print copy out of the library to see if it works better on the page than in audio - perhaps Stewart used footnotes to attribute/explain the liberties he took with dramatizations (though it should be in the main text.) Audio production: The production is not great. Every gap between sentences, paragraphs and even chapters has been viciously removed, often disturbing the flow of the narration and allowing no space for the reader to reflect and absorb. I, personally, found the Lawlor's accent and timbre a little strident for long listening, but that's subjective. What was disturbing was Lawlor's raging case of 'tag lag' - when a narrator allows the emotion of dialogue to continue into the tag so, " "Oh no!" she said." becomes " "Oh no," she said!" It's not a problem on occasion (though a good director aims not to let any slip through) but it's constant in this book (and probably made worse when the listener is pissed off by the dramatization anyway!) All in all, I think this book probably suffered for being made into audio :(

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    I feel the need to explain why on earth I would read a 570 page book about Disney under the leadership of Michael Eisner. Disney itself has never held much attraction. When I was four or five I watched what my parents no doubt figured was an educational film about North American mountain cats. Suffice to say the dad dies first and the mother didn't have long either. Wherupon the cubs are relentlessly chased by human evil doers. I think at this stage I was in hysterics and cannot remember another I feel the need to explain why on earth I would read a 570 page book about Disney under the leadership of Michael Eisner. Disney itself has never held much attraction. When I was four or five I watched what my parents no doubt figured was an educational film about North American mountain cats. Suffice to say the dad dies first and the mother didn't have long either. Wherupon the cubs are relentlessly chased by human evil doers. I think at this stage I was in hysterics and cannot remember another thing about the movie except a deep sense of why would anyone do this to me. Life moves on, one forgives but never forgets. My daughter at age three through some process of atmospheric osmosis becomes very aware of Disney and the revulsion towards simpering princesses grows, but along that a grudging respect. One only has to watch the satanic imbecility of those pony fairies spawn of a focus groups decision to lump everything three year old girls like into one revolting gloop, to see that the quality is oh so much better. And honestly I know all the words to let it go. So grudging respect for Disney aside why read the book? Well I needed to read something where I absolutely could not care less what the people in the book did or what happened to them. I had just read a book about a guy who gets part of his face blown off along with his limbs and spends the rest of his life in purgatory. I needed low stakes, I needed the mundane, I needed corporate politics in all their numbing detail and boy does this book deliver. I loved the hated internal corporate strategy team, the constant stream of corporate executives fired for threatening the ceo if only in his imagination, the stream of good and bad decisions by a man who was pretty decent with a number of flaws. Stuff that worked and stuff that did not. The fact that the worst thing that happened in this book is that someone gets fired and goes on to do something much more fun. Cannot recommend the therapeutic properties of this book more highly. For those who say this review is light in content at least it is spoiler free, after all I wouldn't want to ruin the suspense of why survivor is on Cbs not abc for anyone. Some people have kindly read this review which made me feel a little bad because of the snarkiness and a glaring omission. So to correct the glaring omission the author writes an excellent and enjoyable business book which turned what could have been very dull into a pleasant and informative read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    I'm sure it comes as no surprise that even a quote family-friendly unquote company like Disney has a sordid underbelly. What mega-corporation these days doesn't (just a tip, if you enjoy Diet Coke, I wouldn't google their international business practices too hard; it's not pretty). Disneywar isn't quite that kind of book -- we're not traveling into the sweatshops where orphans with bleeding fingers sew buttons on Mickey's overalls -- but it does air a lot of dirty laundry about the 20-year period I'm sure it comes as no surprise that even a quote family-friendly unquote company like Disney has a sordid underbelly. What mega-corporation these days doesn't (just a tip, if you enjoy Diet Coke, I wouldn't google their international business practices too hard; it's not pretty). Disneywar isn't quite that kind of book -- we're not traveling into the sweatshops where orphans with bleeding fingers sew buttons on Mickey's overalls -- but it does air a lot of dirty laundry about the 20-year period in which Michael Eisner took the company from an also-ran in danger of being sold off to the mega-conglomerate we know and love, before his ever-growing ego and focus on the bottom line began to erode the brand and drive Disney animation into the dirt. I found all of the details immensely entertaining. If you have a favorite Disney movie from that era, it is probably discussed here in detail, from Little Mermaid and The Lion King to massive pirate movie failures like Treasure Planet and pirate movie successes like those Johnny Depp flicks. The scope is impressive (note the page count -- I listened to the audiobook and it was something like 25 hours), covering boardroom coups, theme park development, merchandizing snafus, the battle for Pixar (Eisner's downfall!) and the rise, fall and rise of the ABC network [they hit big and then overexposed Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and passed on a chance at Survivor (whoops!)]. Unfortunately a lot of it is probably a bit out of date by now -- I read it in 2006 when Eisner's walk of shame away from the board of directors (kicked out through the efforts of no less than Roy Disney himself) was still pretty fresh -- but if you like movie industry gossip, it's fascinating stuff. Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 26: Favorite non-fiction book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Such gossip! This covers Disney company history between 1984-2005, including Eisner and Katzenberg's dynamics. It was just... okay. It mostly held my interest. But you could probably get the same highlights by reading Disney's Wikipedia page, and it would take you much less time. When Stewart talks about the context of particular movies being made, it's rather fun. When he merely talks about "this person said that" and "this person tried to make that deal" or said such-and-such a thing in a confe Such gossip! This covers Disney company history between 1984-2005, including Eisner and Katzenberg's dynamics. It was just... okay. It mostly held my interest. But you could probably get the same highlights by reading Disney's Wikipedia page, and it would take you much less time. When Stewart talks about the context of particular movies being made, it's rather fun. When he merely talks about "this person said that" and "this person tried to make that deal" or said such-and-such a thing in a conference room, it gets rather boring. Most all of the names mentioned passed me by and I won't remember them after walking away from the book. Reading this as an audiobook is the only way I got through it. I would have ditched it in print. Lindsay Ellis's videos are good companion pieces to this book: Beauty and the Beast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpUx9... Revisionist World of Disney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9dCW...

  6. 5 out of 5

    James

    One of the best books on corporations, the interaction between personality and creativity, how structure affects success, and how Disney became the Disney we think of; when it starts in 1984, Disney was at a literal crossroads but the seeds of its doom had already been sewn... ...okay, too melodramatic but the book is incredibly good and the pacing is exciting as egos go out of control, and it's also full of fascinating insights to how so many of Disney's movies got made (and how many opportuniti One of the best books on corporations, the interaction between personality and creativity, how structure affects success, and how Disney became the Disney we think of; when it starts in 1984, Disney was at a literal crossroads but the seeds of its doom had already been sewn... ...okay, too melodramatic but the book is incredibly good and the pacing is exciting as egos go out of control, and it's also full of fascinating insights to how so many of Disney's movies got made (and how many opportunities they missed).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    This book was fascinating and difficult to put down, so as far as I'm concerned it did its job. Disjointed thoughts: - While reading, I wasn't completely sure what Stewart's thesis was. The book was entertaining, but seemed more like a history of Disney in the mid-80s to mid-2000s than the story of Eisner's downfall. There was a part of me that felt like maybe the thesis was just so obvious that Stewart didn't bother to explicitly state it - that Eisner's downfall and Disney's struggles in the la This book was fascinating and difficult to put down, so as far as I'm concerned it did its job. Disjointed thoughts: - While reading, I wasn't completely sure what Stewart's thesis was. The book was entertaining, but seemed more like a history of Disney in the mid-80s to mid-2000s than the story of Eisner's downfall. There was a part of me that felt like maybe the thesis was just so obvious that Stewart didn't bother to explicitly state it - that Eisner's downfall and Disney's struggles in the late-90s to the mid-2000s was because of Eisner's personality. Then I read the conclusion, and was surprised it wasn't the introduction: the conclusion is really the thesis, and I was surprised it wasn't used as a framing device. - Similarly, I don't know how appropriate the title is. Neither of the two DisneyWars launched by Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold are given a ton of focus. - While this book is highly critical of Eisner, it still attempts to present all the major figures in this saga as more than just "good" or "bad", to varying levels of success. I think the portrayal of Jeffrey Katzenberg is the most successful in this regard: he has several unflattering moments, but it's hard not to feel sympathetic towards him, and there are scenes where he comes off favourably. Similarly, while Frank Wells is generally affable and likeable, there are instances where Stewart points out his questionable business choices. Bob Iger oscillates between Eisner's accomplice and victim. As for Eisner himself, Stewart does his best to let Eisner's behaviour speak for itself, and does give him a few sympathetic moments, but they are few and far between. - I was shocked that this book did not talk more about EuroDisney. The main point of this book is arguably that Frank Wells' death in 1994 was only partially responsible for Disney's decline and Eisner's eventual ouster. EuroDisney is one of the biggest pieces of evidence for this point, as it demonstrated the fact that Wells was not always able to reign Eisner in. - This book has three parts: the first being Eisner's arrival at Disney and the Katzenberg years, the second the acquisition of ABC and the Ovitz era, and the third (the shortest) being Roy and Stanley's 2004 Save Disney campaign. While the second and third parts are still engaging and interesting, they definitely pale in comparison to the first third of the book, which was an absolute ride. Resultantly, the later parts of the book can feel sluggish at times, though it's hard to fault Stewart's for this as he needed to discuss ABC/Ovitz, and nothing could top the theatrics and ridiculousness of the Katzenberg fiasco. Overall: If the subject matter piques your interest, I'd say give it a try.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Disney War is encyclopedic in its scope and coverage of the Michael Eisner-era Walt Disney Company. It begins by providing a good background into the situation that brought Eisner to Disney from both his own career leading up to his hiring and the leadership and creative vacuum left after Walt Disney's death. It then details the rise and fall of Eisner with every machination with a complete cast of partners, associates, and subordinates. What the reader is treated to is a wonderfully entertaining Disney War is encyclopedic in its scope and coverage of the Michael Eisner-era Walt Disney Company. It begins by providing a good background into the situation that brought Eisner to Disney from both his own career leading up to his hiring and the leadership and creative vacuum left after Walt Disney's death. It then details the rise and fall of Eisner with every machination with a complete cast of partners, associates, and subordinates. What the reader is treated to is a wonderfully entertaining and riveting inside history of the Walt Disney Company from 1984 to 2004. The author also frames the larger situation by drawing parallels to a Machiavellian or Shakespearean plotline where the Disney management’s hubris is met with as dramatic a fall as its rise. It also takes great pains to provide a very balanced approach. Often, it provides two or more sides to the most contentious moments in the company's history. Almost every major player in the company and industry at the time is included (often first person via interview).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Would I recommend this one? Only if you are extremely interested in this era of Disney history or the politics of an enormous corporation. Otherwise, you can find the gist of the story elsewhere. This book is incredibly dense – it took me over a week to get through because there are so many people doing so many things and eventually there are so many components of the company that it all becomes too much to track. But it is also all very interesting to a certain set of people – me. The book has Would I recommend this one? Only if you are extremely interested in this era of Disney history or the politics of an enormous corporation. Otherwise, you can find the gist of the story elsewhere. This book is incredibly dense – it took me over a week to get through because there are so many people doing so many things and eventually there are so many components of the company that it all becomes too much to track. But it is also all very interesting to a certain set of people – me. The book has weaknesses, an over reliance on the reader’s memory of the literally hundreds of people involved, some sloppy copyediting that allowed references to the wrong year or occasionally the wrong person to sneak through. Also, it was published in 2005 when Miramax belonged under the Disney corporate umbrella and the Weinstein brothers were still employed there, so it was very jarring to see Harvey Weinstein presented in a mostly positive light given what we know now about his personal behavior in those years. full review: https://faintingviolet.wordpress.com/...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barclay Sparrow

    I feel like I’ve just scaled Mount Everest!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kevidently

    What a fascinating book. I couldn't have read this when I was just getting into Disney. In 2007, all I cared about was The Magic, and nothing was going to come between me and it. I was aware of this book but I steered clear of it, relying on rapturous Disney histories and blogs and, eventually, DisTwitter. OK, so it wasn't all rapturous. DisneyWar charts Michael Eisner's tenure as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. From the early days, when Roy Disney staged a near-coup to get Eisner on board, to th What a fascinating book. I couldn't have read this when I was just getting into Disney. In 2007, all I cared about was The Magic, and nothing was going to come between me and it. I was aware of this book but I steered clear of it, relying on rapturous Disney histories and blogs and, eventually, DisTwitter. OK, so it wasn't all rapturous. DisneyWar charts Michael Eisner's tenure as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. From the early days, when Roy Disney staged a near-coup to get Eisner on board, to the waning final days, when Roy did it again to strip Eisner of his power, Eisner's tenure was tumultuous. I've talked about Eisner's time at Disney plenty on both social media and in my podcast, The Thirty20Eight. But although I knew some of his highlights and lowlights, I knew nothing of the corporate intrigue, the paranoia, and the increasingly insular nature of the company and the man. I don't know how much of the book highlights the latter-era missed chances because it deals with successes we know about, or because they were just so egregious. How Disney gave up a bunch of the profits for The Sixth Sense, because Eisner didn't think it would do well. How he excoriated Finding Nemo as "Pixar will finally have a wake-up call" as to how their golden reign would end. How Eisner passed on CSI and Survivor, which became massive hits elsewhere. Is it all "hindsight is 20/20" or were Eisner's sins just that profound? It's actually kind of tragic after Eisner spearheaded the first Disney Renaissance, starting somewhere around The Great Mouse Detective and ending somewhere around Tarzan. What's most interesting is how Eisner kind of keeps trying to believe he's in Disney's salad days, long - LONG - past the time he is. My only issue with the book is that we didn't really get a lot of theme park stuff. I honestly thought we'd get a big breakdown of WestCot and an in-depth look at California Adventure's bizarre first years. Nothing much on that, or on the changes Eisner brought to the resort hotel concept (adding value resorts), theme park attractions (beyond Mission: Space), and more. There's a lot of ink on Disneyland Paris, but virtually nothing on the Asian parks, or even domestic. It's a ding for me but I get it. This book is more about boardroom malfeasance and mergers and acquisitions and big-screen entertainment rather than Splash Mountain and Barbie at Epcot. Still, even for someone who doesn't really care about corporate movers, shakers, and losers, I found author James B. Stewart's prose moving quickly and the huge moments and shocking reversals so outsized, this could have been fiction. The weirdest thing is that it's not. I really liked this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    This book is about the inner workings of Disney under the leadership of Micheal Eisner. This is by no means an easy read, but if you have any vested interest in Disney as a company or how choices were made for certain films and t.v. channels, than this is a pretty interesting read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    mackenzie

    Outstanding. A must-read for anyone who’s even remotely interested in the Walt Disney Company and what went on behind the scenes during the 20-year reign of Michael Eisner as Chairman and CEO of the company.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Seth Brady

    Wow! More internal drama then you could possibly imagine! What a great book. I had no idea how much went on behind the scenes during Michael Eisner's 20 year reign over The Walt Disney Company. It chronicles in depth the movement driving his first joining of the company in 1984 (ironically by two board members who fought tenaciously for his ouster 20 years later!), the rise of Disney's 1990s animation renaissance with Jeffrey Katzenberg (think Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Wow! More internal drama then you could possibly imagine! What a great book. I had no idea how much went on behind the scenes during Michael Eisner's 20 year reign over The Walt Disney Company. It chronicles in depth the movement driving his first joining of the company in 1984 (ironically by two board members who fought tenaciously for his ouster 20 years later!), the rise of Disney's 1990s animation renaissance with Jeffrey Katzenberg (think Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King) and later viciously spiteful fall out, the bizarre and costly one year Michael Ovitz debacle, manipulation, coercion, and exploitation of a spineless Board that would never be tolerated in today's climate, expansion of the parks and the addition of the budget-busting EuroDisney, the death of Frank Wells (which many claim marked the end for Eisner), as well as the acquisition of ABC and the $5B struggle to make the purchase of ABC Family appear like a success.  The book culminates in the hugely contentious battle behind the scenes and in the public eye, putting former Board members -- including Roy Disney himself -- against Eisnet (completely reversing his efforts two decades previously to put him in power). This book really makes you wonder what the company is really like today under Bob Iger.  While some creative tension is good and can yield strong results, the story behind the massive expansion of this company, its content, global merchandising, expansive theme parks, and he shocking tales of pure financial and power-mad hubris makes you really wonder if he ends chili justify the means. This is the first book I've read in a long time where despite the huge length, I really didn't want it to end. In fact, the author should consider releasing an updated version with a new afterward highlighting what went on in the last 10 years since the end of the book (something I'd definitely come back to read)!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    Stewart takes a fascinating in-depth look at the structure and politics of the Walt Disney Company, focusing on the years Michael Eisner was in power. Reporting in a straight "these-are-the-facts" manner, you still get a breathtakingly dramatic portrait of Eisner: His creative, younger years of success, partnered with talented people, and his gradual loss of his sense of reality as he begins to see himself as the omnipotent king of the Disney empire, and the natural heir of Walt Disney himself. Stewart takes a fascinating in-depth look at the structure and politics of the Walt Disney Company, focusing on the years Michael Eisner was in power. Reporting in a straight "these-are-the-facts" manner, you still get a breathtakingly dramatic portrait of Eisner: His creative, younger years of success, partnered with talented people, and his gradual loss of his sense of reality as he begins to see himself as the omnipotent king of the Disney empire, and the natural heir of Walt Disney himself. People who have grown up seeing Disney movies, going to the theme parks and, for the last 15 years at least, hearing a parent blame Eisner for all that is wrong with Disney, this offers a more nuanced (but in the end, not much less incriminating) picture. (I'm not sure how many people did grow up like that, but that's what made the book cool for me.) For Disney fans who have just been dismayed at the declining quality and loss of creativity and attention to detail in Disney products, this is still a captivating behind-the-scenes look at the politicking behind Disney movies, Broadway productions, television moves, and theme parks. And for those not particularly interested in Disney at all, it still reads almost as a fast-packed corporate thriller through the attempted takeover by Comcast, the near collapse of the Disney/Pixar partnership, Roy Disney and Stanley Gold's resignation and "Save Disney" campaign, and Eiser's eventual overthrow. Stewart's comparison of Eisner to the doomed, egomaniac kings (which comes only at the very end) is brilliant.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    I initially chose this book because I am fascinated with all things Disney-namely the history of animation and its business wheelings and dealings. I was hoping to get an insider look at how the decisions to many of the elements of my childhood came about, and I wasn't disappointed. I'm going to be honest and say that I picked up the audio book to listen on my commutes to and from work, so I didn't technically read the book myself. Having said that, I think that had I not been on those long ride I initially chose this book because I am fascinated with all things Disney-namely the history of animation and its business wheelings and dealings. I was hoping to get an insider look at how the decisions to many of the elements of my childhood came about, and I wasn't disappointed. I'm going to be honest and say that I picked up the audio book to listen on my commutes to and from work, so I didn't technically read the book myself. Having said that, I think that had I not been on those long rides listening to the narrator I doubt I'd have gotten past the first few pages because it can be extremely tedious at times. The initial half about Eisner's rise to the top of Disney was very much engaging, and I was excited to get through it. Once it hit the halfway mark however, (that is, once David Katzenberg left), I quickly realized a once interesting book was becoming dull and unappealing. Towards the end of the first half the book went into Eisner and Katzenberg's falling out, which sounded more like a middle school feud in the bathroom; it had drama and gossip, and then it just became excessive. The pace really slowed down and unfortunately, instead of ending with a bang, was a dud.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pym

    A tale of the obnoxious dregs of upper management at Disney from the 1980s on, their annual bonuses and spats. This is before the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but he makes an appearance as a respected peer which tells you a lot about the kind of people they are. They are also given surprising creative credit, Jeffrey Katzenberg is said to have come up with the idea for Lion King for example, which does not gel with other accounts, to put it politely. Though it does have an account of him butchering A tale of the obnoxious dregs of upper management at Disney from the 1980s on, their annual bonuses and spats. This is before the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but he makes an appearance as a respected peer which tells you a lot about the kind of people they are. They are also given surprising creative credit, Jeffrey Katzenberg is said to have come up with the idea for Lion King for example, which does not gel with other accounts, to put it politely. Though it does have an account of him butchering The Black Cauldron, which matches what the creative side have described. It does seem amazing that in such an atmosphere anything creative can be produced at all, though this is an era that saw a series of great films. In the end the endless politicking, backbiting, deals on golf courses and private jets, ridiculous salaries and bickering over money, and the fact that anything Disney - the cartoons, the theme park rides - are mentioned only in passing as an afterthought, left me increasingly nauseous. Although we're led to believe Walt himself was no prize of a human being, it does make me curious to go back and see how he started it all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    maggie

    at the end when the author is writing in 2004 or 2005 about how despite any corporate bullshit going on people will always discover and love Disney movies for generations to come and specifies how Johnny Depp will always be Jack Sparrow and M. Night Shyamalan will always come up with new sci-fi twists... the Twilight Zone eeriness of reading that in 2019

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brett Plaxton

    A look into Michael Eisner’s 20 year tenure with Disney. I wasn’t expecting to be so engrossed in this story. But with all of the information that the author had at his disposal, he was able to really go into how one of the biggest businesses in the world works. It’s amazing how many wild things happened with Disney in those 20 years that Eisner was in charge. Being a fan of the book Console Wars by Blake J. Harris, I found some similarities with that story in that they both start with a newcome A look into Michael Eisner’s 20 year tenure with Disney. I wasn’t expecting to be so engrossed in this story. But with all of the information that the author had at his disposal, he was able to really go into how one of the biggest businesses in the world works. It’s amazing how many wild things happened with Disney in those 20 years that Eisner was in charge. Being a fan of the book Console Wars by Blake J. Harris, I found some similarities with that story in that they both start with a newcomer to a company show a rise and fall and how that person eventually leaves in the end. If you want a look into one of the biggest companies on the planet and how much of a gong show that place was at times, check this one out!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Pinkus

    I think the difference between executives (Michael Eisner) and entrepreneurs (Walt Disney) is that executives are obsessed with their own employment, whereas entrepreneurs do not have to worry about getting fired and are instead obsessed with customers. When you're getting paid a salary and a committee could fire you, you care more about not offending the committee than acting like an owner; that is incentives for you. I think the difference between executives (Michael Eisner) and entrepreneurs (Walt Disney) is that executives are obsessed with their own employment, whereas entrepreneurs do not have to worry about getting fired and are instead obsessed with customers. When you're getting paid a salary and a committee could fire you, you care more about not offending the committee than acting like an owner; that is incentives for you.

  21. 5 out of 5

    jacobi

    michael eisner has what regina george wants

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fayla

    Did I really spend 25 hours listening to some guy’s version of the Disney Corporation’s burn book? Yes, yes I did. I was intrigued by the first couple of hours and the last couple hours were also action-packed. But the middle can be summed up as Michael Eisner is a monster. Maybe he was the inspiration for Monsters, Inc!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jude

    Four chapters in and it's just not as interesting as I thought it would be. Four chapters in and it's just not as interesting as I thought it would be.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Very dense. I guess I thought it would be more about the background to the films made around this time and whilst there were certainly a few interesting anecdotes, it was mainly about the personality clashes inside the company. I guess I learned more than I wanted to about how large public corporations operate.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dave Tavres

    As a former Disneyland tour guide, I was very interested in the history of Walt and the park (www.WaltsApartment.com) and to some extent, the Disney Company. This book intrigued me, as it came out during the time that mike eisnerd and his regime tried forcing Walt's nephew, Roy E. Disney, off the Board of Directors of the Disney Company. It read like a spy novel. Who did what to whom. When did this person know about that. What was being done behind the scenes to get a certain outcome. For ME, it w As a former Disneyland tour guide, I was very interested in the history of Walt and the park (www.WaltsApartment.com) and to some extent, the Disney Company. This book intrigued me, as it came out during the time that mike eisnerd and his regime tried forcing Walt's nephew, Roy E. Disney, off the Board of Directors of the Disney Company. It read like a spy novel. Who did what to whom. When did this person know about that. What was being done behind the scenes to get a certain outcome. For ME, it was all very interesting, even though I didn't know all the players or the history behind the company. I felt like the writer did a great job of 'reporting' the history and stories and not taking sides. There's a lot to this book - I made several notes about time frames and people so I could do more reading and research at a later time. This isn't a book JUST for Disney-nuts... anyone who is interested in how a giant corporation works, or someone who likes 'historic' novels set in our own time should enjoy this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I came to the end of this book without understanding any more than I did at the start why, precisely, it was written. It purports to tell the story of the Michael Eisner era of the Disney Corporation, which took place over twenty years and incorporated the Disney Renaissance. Yet, make no mistake, this is the story of Eisner, not of Disney. It’s only about Disney insofar as certain things about Disney pertain to Eisner. For example, we get a deep dive on the construction of Euro Disney and the a I came to the end of this book without understanding any more than I did at the start why, precisely, it was written. It purports to tell the story of the Michael Eisner era of the Disney Corporation, which took place over twenty years and incorporated the Disney Renaissance. Yet, make no mistake, this is the story of Eisner, not of Disney. It’s only about Disney insofar as certain things about Disney pertain to Eisner. For example, we get a deep dive on the construction of Euro Disney and the acquisition of the ABC television channel, but the contribution of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to the Disney Renaissance merit a scant few paragraphs. On the other hand, it’s not a biography of Eisner either. There’s a potted character sketch that includes a memory of great importance to Eisner (his mother lied to him about bedtime or something) but not of any narrative or characterful consequence, from the reader’s perspective. It doesn’t, eg, stop Eisner lying as an adult pretty much continuously. Stewart presents multiple conversations recalled differently by Eisner and the other conversant, which to me simply means all these suits are sharks and pragmatists – what you’d expect, in a boardroom. The effort to brand Eisner as uniquely awful fails because everyone else is the same type and magnitude of awful, whether they (or Stewart) realise it. Towards the end of the book Stewart deals with Roy Disney’s attempt to oust Eisner as CEO, a move that’s painted as an ideological crusade. Yet when Stewart attends a shareholder meeting along with hundreds of ordinary Joes who bought Disney stock because they loved Disney, the concept, Steward is baffled and a little squeamish. At the very least I assumed that Eisner’s tenure was going to be painted as inimical to the ‘magic of Disney’, for want of a better word, but ultimately it’s not even painted as ‘off-brand’ for the ‘Disney brand’. (I share Roy Disney’s dislike of this terminology, not just as it applies to Disney but to everything.) Eisner comes off as megalomanical, for sure, but no more so than I presume the average corporate CEO is. His contributions to the Disney Renaissance, hand-in-hand with Jeffrey Katzenberg, are portrayed as inspired, whereas his insistence on a stupid subtitle for Pirates of the Caribbean is a sign of his failing majesty. What’s missing in all of this is the realisation that Eisner cannot truly be held responsible for Disney’s artistic successes or failures. HE’S NOT A FUCKING ARTIST. HE’S A SUIT. He can definitely be held responsible for, like, ‘making shit acquisitions’ or ‘not meeting targets’, but when those targets are ‘profits on films’ he’s actively positioning himself as an antagonist to the creative process. All executives are. Does Stewart know this? Does he care? Er, nope. There’s a huge emphasis in this book on the legalese and the deal-making, which I could give less of a crap about; but then Stewart strays into frankly metaphysical territory, without seeming to realise it. He muses on the reasons for booting Eisner, which come down to his lack of fiduciary duty to shareholders and his leadership style, which is a functional dictatorship. Stewart – and everyone on Team Not Eisner – invokes a philosophical stance that lends itself more to Locke or Rousseau’s social contracts than it does businesses that make money running businesses to make money. I’m losing it over the fact that they’re all so morally indignant that Eisner didn’t bring a buy-out offer from Comcast to the committee of money or whatever it is, and instead rejected it outright. ‘He had a DUTY to his SHAREHOLDERS to get them THE MOST MONEY!’ the quoted suits squawk. Er, what? I mean, sure. You do you, suits! But the money comes from the Disney product, which is built off the back of people making cartoons about fairytales and mice. Doesn’t Eisner also have a duty to foster the creativity that earns the money? Is there no conceptual universe in which this transcends the right of hedge-fund managers and pension funds to get an extra five cents on the dollar on their shares? If there isn’t, they have no place to be bringing any kind of philosophy into it. Stewart dutifully reports on all this without interrogating it, or ever considering who the hell the audience for this is supposed to be. I guess there must be a readership of people who love vicariously experiencing corporate raidership, but I warrant most readers – like me – want an insight into the grimy inner workings of the House of Mouse. Which this sort of is, but only the most boring and generic bits, the ones that would apply if Eisner was CEO of Disney or a washing machine company. The revolving door of execs does just that, which I found supremely distasteful. I guess that’s my naiveté speaking. You can’t be a multinational ‘brand’ without reaching a point of assimilation with all other multinational brands, such that there’s no functional difference between Disney and, like, Exxon. (A Disney-owned channel hosted Rush Limbaugh. I rest my case.) For this to be the book I wanted, it would have to acknowledge that a) Disney is an evil corp and b) the seeds of it becoming so were baked into the early success of its creative project. If any philosophy owns this, it’s nihilism. This book was published in 2005, predating several key moments: the Great Recession, Iger’s acquisition of the entire known universe for the Disney monocorp, Frozen, and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein. My favourite moment in this trudge of a book was Weinstein screaming over losing the rights of a pet project to New Line. That project, so close to Harvey’s heart? Lord of the Rings. An exquisite moment of schadenfreude.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Neo Marshkga

    I think that, in order to start talking about the book, we need to understand the man behind the story, the CEO of Disney, from 1984 to 2005, and this quote, is the easiest way i can find to do so: "We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. But to make money, it is often important to make history, to make art, or to make some significant statement…. In order to make money, we must always make entertaining movies, and if we I think that, in order to start talking about the book, we need to understand the man behind the story, the CEO of Disney, from 1984 to 2005, and this quote, is the easiest way i can find to do so: "We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. But to make money, it is often important to make history, to make art, or to make some significant statement…. In order to make money, we must always make entertaining movies, and if we make entertaining movies, at times we will reliably make history, art, a statement, or all three. We may even win awards…. We cannot expect numerous hits, but if every film has an original and imaginative concept, then we can be confident that something will break through." - Michael Eisner, 1982 quote, talking about the Success of Raiders of the Lost Ark, 2 years before leaving Paramount Pictures It's an important quote, not because i necessarily agree with it, i actually do not, but because it helps us understand how he thinks, his priorities, they way he balances his decisions, and, in a way, helps us understand how Disney went from the small company it was in 1984, to the juggernaut that it is nowadays. James Stewart is clearly an incredible Journalist, he tries to paint the picture as clear as possible, trying to follow a narrative, but at the same time, not being too partial to one side of the argument. He is very harsh on Eisner, but, at the same time, he is clear when praise needs to be given, and i can respect that. Disney's history is far darker than what the Disney Brand would like us to know, with a lot of deep conservative roots, that shifted with the political views with time, but always trying to be as apolitical as possible (which, as we know is impossible, and is basically embracing the status quo), or, lately, adding some liberal trendy ideas but without much elaboration. I enjoyed reading how many of our favorite franchises came to be, or how many others almost couldn't see the light because of corporate decisions. And it also helped me with my understanding of the Hollywood/Corporate internal games and how they work. Eisner represents everything that i dislike about Corporate America, but this didn't put me off, actually it made me want to read more, made me want to understand a little bit more about how they think. I am not entirely sure who to recommend this book to, since not necessarily an interest in Disney translates into an interest into their corporate history and their internal struggles, but i guess anyone that has an interest in Journalism and Disney, will have a blast with this. It's not a long book, but it is hard to read fast, because there are a lot of names, a lot of history that one needs to get used to. That being said, once you start with it, it's hard to stop, the book is addictive, clearly the author knows how to create a believable narrative, and make it interesting enough, even when everything is based on actual facts. IDK, i am happy that i payed attention to Lindsay Ellis when she recommended it, hope this helps.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    3.5/5 I entered into this book knowing next to nothing about Disney. Sure, I loved the movies and enjoyed a lot of various media they produced, but I knew nothing about the internal workings, enormous egos, chaotic clashing executives, or the political aspects of the company. This book is centred around Michael Eisner, who was CEO of Disney between the years of 1984 and 2005. I also became very much aware of other key players such as Roy Disney, Frank Wells, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and many others wh 3.5/5 I entered into this book knowing next to nothing about Disney. Sure, I loved the movies and enjoyed a lot of various media they produced, but I knew nothing about the internal workings, enormous egos, chaotic clashing executives, or the political aspects of the company. This book is centred around Michael Eisner, who was CEO of Disney between the years of 1984 and 2005. I also became very much aware of other key players such as Roy Disney, Frank Wells, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and many others who were integral to the functioning of Disney in one way or another; or had tumultuous relations with Eisner. Stewart was invited to enter the world of Disney as an outsider looking in, and he became intimately aware of the inner functions, and issues, of the company. He was able to explore both the good and the bad and was able to paint a picture of the company in a fairly neutral light. One thing I will agree with that others have mentioned about this book, is that there are some pieces of information that really come out of nowhere and made me wonder how exactly Stewart was able to get the insight he did. It made me question the authenticity of parts of the book. He may have been invited into the company, and became comfortable with the key players, but that still doesn’t exactly explain how he knew everything that he did. Honestly, this book was a weird choice for me to read, and I definitely wouldn’t read it again, but it was very interesting to have a look inside an influential and innovative company during such a key era of Disney. Though I gave the book a 3.5/5 it actually has inspired me to read more books on business, and to understand the importance of corporate culture within the workplace. It is the field I’ll be working in, so I should expand my repertoire by reading more business!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Several folks recommended this non-fiction tome for people like me who love the hit HBO series Succession. Since the third season just ended (and who knows when we’ll get a fourth?), I finally decided to try it. And yeah, fans of Succession will love it. Fans of corporate thrillers/backstabbing will love it too, whether fiction or non-fiction is your poison. James B. Stewart documents in great detail the rise and fall arc of Michael Eisner. These kinds of books aren’t my thing but I can’t imagine Several folks recommended this non-fiction tome for people like me who love the hit HBO series Succession. Since the third season just ended (and who knows when we’ll get a fourth?), I finally decided to try it. And yeah, fans of Succession will love it. Fans of corporate thrillers/backstabbing will love it too, whether fiction or non-fiction is your poison. James B. Stewart documents in great detail the rise and fall arc of Michael Eisner. These kinds of books aren’t my thing but I can’t imagine there’s a better way to give a full picture of how the sausage is made in a major corporation. Every political maneuver, butt-covering lie, backstabbing action gets airtime as the reader learns how brutal the entertainment business really is, and how success can impact people in really negative ways. Stewart is highly critical of Eisner without being preachy. He lets the story tell itself rather than turn this into a polemic on Eisner’s management style at Disney. Thus, I really had a great understanding of how Disney rebounded from fading product ripe for takeover to the glittering standard of Hollywood thanks to the cash cow animated films and finally how it became a prisoner of its own success and seemingly overextended itself with the purchase of ABC. It’s definitely dry in spots and hard to track. A lot of people come and go and Stewart gets a wee bit too fascinated with some of the corporate details. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent piece of journalism that will satisfy what audiences are looking for.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    A good book, providing a corporate history of The Walt Disney Company during the nearly two decade leadership of Michael Eisner. Going deep into the politics surrounding the direction of the company and the (big) personalities involved, this book was an interesting overview of Eisner’s re-invention of Disney and his later fall from power. The number of current leaders in the American media industry who show up in this story, either as heroes, villains, or something in between, is surprising. The A good book, providing a corporate history of The Walt Disney Company during the nearly two decade leadership of Michael Eisner. Going deep into the politics surrounding the direction of the company and the (big) personalities involved, this book was an interesting overview of Eisner’s re-invention of Disney and his later fall from power. The number of current leaders in the American media industry who show up in this story, either as heroes, villains, or something in between, is surprising. The author contends that Eisner was only successful in the first half of his time at Disney due to his talented and/or clever subordinates, while their absence in his latter years with the Company quickened his departure. Though well argued, I couldn’t help but think that elements of this narrative were missing. The effects of a rapidly changing media market, growing competition, and failures of projects chaperoned by subordinates appeared to me under-discussed in the analysis. But, in either case, this book does a great job in laying out the interplay between artistic development and corporate finance in a modern media company. I certainly learned a lot more about how entertainment products are made and the business environment in which they are created. Recommended for those wanting to know more about the “Disney Miracle” of the 1980-1990 period or how finance and entertainment mix in the media industry.

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