Disney War

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DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war, told by one of our most acclaimed writers and reporters.

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Overview

DisneyWar is the breathtaking, dramatic inside story of what drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war, told by one of our most acclaimed writers and reporters.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In one of the most talked-about business books of recent years, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist James B. Stewart offers a controversial and often unflattering look at the innermost workings of the Walt Disney Company. Uncovering a modern-day version of Richard III, this master storyteller presents the insider details of all the intrigues, betrayals, billionaire investments, and setups in Michael Eisner's kingdom.
Bob Woodward
DisneyWar is a compelling and often brilliant tale of how Eisner kept his own -- and everyone else's -- stress levels churning. To give Eisner the benefit of the doubt, his intent seems to have been to maintain an atmosphere of creativity while containing the roaring, toxic egos of the numerous barons of the magic kingdom. But in the end, it was Eisner's own ego that swamped and infected Disney.
— The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
The book describes an Eisner-dominated atmosphere of nonstop conflict and bickering, punctuated by the occasional stinker ("Pearl Harbor"), gold mine ("The Lion King") or missed opportunity ("The Sopranos"). It tells a messy, fractious story complete with its own Seven Dwarfs: Sneaky, Screamy, Pushy, Greedy, Grabby, Nasty and Snarky. Snow White is nowhere to be seen.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Trust Stewart to find the Blood Sport in the toppling of Michael Eisner, once king of Disney's hill. A six-city tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684809939
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/22/2005
  • Pages: 592
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James B. Stewart is the author of Heart of a Soldier, the bestselling Blind Eye and Blood Sport, and the blockbuster Den of Thieves. A former Page-One editor at The Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. He is a regular contributor to SmartMoney and The New Yorker. He lives in New York.
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Read an Excerpt

The fusion of chief executive Michael Eisner's identity with that of Disney— L'état, c'est moi—is hardly a rare phenomenon in either business or history. It has traditionally led to the downfall of nearly all absolute monarchies. A familiar tragic character in Shakespeare-Lear, Henry IV, Richard II, Macbeth, Richard III-is the ruler whose power is such that he bends the truth itself to suit his will. When Eisner himself sometimes referred to the ongoing drama around him as "Shakespearean," he might well have been describing Shakespeare's many explorations of this very theme, in which a monarch forgets his subjects and answers to the demands of his own ego.
—from DisneyWar
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The wonderful world of Disney 17
Pt. 2 Disenchanted kingdom 187
Pt. 3 Disneywar 463
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(3)

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005

    Deep inside the kingdom

    Ever wonder what the reality was behind the happy, smiling faces at Disney World -- not to mention those of Disney's top executives? DisneyWar tunnels into the dark catacombs of the enchanted castle to reveal the carefully hidden underbelly of one of the world's best-known corporations. From the heady days of hit movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast to the disastrous white-elephant construction of Euro Disney, from Michael Eisner's double crossing of his best friend, Michael Ovitz, to his fatal mistake -- underestimating the determination of Roy O. Disney, Walt's nephew -- James B. Stewart illuminates the entire odyssey that is Disney under CEO Michael Eisner. The book reads like a thrill ride at one of the Disney theme parks. You won't believe your eyes ...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2006

    Fantastic Book!

    This book was great. I'd been what I suppose you could say converted to being a Disney fan after marrying a former Walt Disney World 'cast member'. As I was walking through the parks one day, I looked around and thought about how corporate a place like Disney really must have been to have built such a global empire. I found Stewart's book in a Virgin right outside of Disney World and couldn't put it down. This was a fantastic book. What a wild ride from Walt's imagination to Eisner's reign.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Excellent, highly detailed book

    Well-written book about Eisner's tenure at ABC/Disney. The plotting, the dealing, the deal-breaking, the nearly ubiquitous backstabbing-it wasn't all Eisner's doing, but when Roy Disney waged a corporate campaign against Eisner, Disney employees voted over 70% of their 401K shares against Eisner.
    Also explains why ABC Family is so awful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    Great read!

    Great behind the scenes book about the Happiest Place on Earth.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Outstanding history of the Eisner era!

    Stewart presents a riviting and comprehensive account of the Disney empire under the leadership of Michael Eisner. From his assention to retirement, Eisner obstensively saved the ailing company and ruled it with as a personal kingdom. This fantastic work takes us through every significant moment of Eisner's tenure in an objective manner that allows us to feel the joy of every success and the pain of every betrayal. As a Disney fan and not so avid reader, I highly recommend this book if you want to learn an important piece of Disney history.

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Happiest Company on Earth...Not

    This informative look into the Wonderful World of Disney delves into all aspects regarding the reign of CEO Michael Eisner. This book is very interesting in that it details how the supposedly happiest company on earth was subject to some of the worst aspects of human nature and its internal workings transformed into the exact opposite of the public image that was presented. An informative read for those wanting to know what not to do with corporate power as well as a fun read for those who want some excitement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2007

    Very Interesting

    This book was great, and really showed the downfall of Michael Eisner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2005

    Disney War

    This is another can¿t put it down book by James Stewart. Den of Thieves was outstanding and this book is just as good. I never thought much of Michael Eisner and now I think even less of him. It is remarkable such a small man could ever become CEO of Disney, let alone remain in that position for so long. Mr. Stewart did a fantastic job of telling the Disney story and showing what a petty, unethical person Michael Eisner is. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about the inside activities of the business world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2005

    Excellent

    I bought DisneyWar because I am a big fan of Disney. It is probably the first and only long non-fiction book I've ever read. It was a very interesting story and was written very well. Held your interest the whole way through. Some very interesting things about your favorite movies. I was proud of myself for actually finishing it. Just an excellent book all around.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2005

    Disney War

    I really enjoyed James Stewart's book. Every bit as good as Den of Thieves, which was a classic. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes to read about boardroom intrigue and how a big company like Disney can be run in a dysfunctional way by a childish, self-centered, egotistical CEO.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2005

    Insightful!

    Pulitzer prize winner James B. Stewart paints a portrait of Michael Eisner that has more in common with a totalitarian dictator than with most CEOs. Stewart is careful, though, to trace the Walt Disney Company¿s growth and success under Eisner, even though he was really running Disney for the benefit of just a handful of people - including himself. And, just as carefully, Stewart traces the company¿s spiraling internal chaos. The pluses: the author tells an instructive, intricate corporate saga in intriguing detail. Minuses: He is no expert on the film industry and the narrative doesn¿t build much momentum. Frustratingly, although no doubt for sound reportorial reasons, he also mostly refuses to draw conclusions until the short final chapter. We recommend this troubling portrait of corporate excess and misbehavior to all managers and to students of entertainment and media as a lesson on the pitfalls of untamed corporate politics and unbridled CEO power.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2005

    The Price of Hubris

    For a brief moment, I am tempted to complain that James Stewart's book devotes less than 200 pages to the first ten years of Michael Eisner's reign and then 400 to the following eleven years. That would seem grossly unfair, as his first ten years were among the most brilliant of any corporate executive in the past 30-40 years. However, any 'unfairness' on dwelling on the negative is deserved, because if anyone had a 'layup' on greatness and squandered it on egomania, pettiness and Godawful business judgement, it was Eisner. As great as he was those first ten years, he was beyond atrocious the next 11. This book is painful to read because we watch Eisner play a clumsy, oafish King Lear and destroy everyone around him in slow motion - Katzenberg, Ovitz, Roth are only the most prominent examples, though dozens abound. He deserved his fate and then some - and one can only hope for the sake of Disney, a true American icon, that Bob Iger isn't the lickspittle he appears to be in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2005

    27.5% at Disney thought Eisner did a good job.

    Stewart¿s book is an entertaining history of the personality conflicts (with almost everyone) and dubious management by Michael Eisner. Full of gossip and amazing personal details, the story begins with Eisner¿s takeover of the company and his first ten years of excellent results (or were they Katzenberg¿s results?) all of which appears to end with the death of Frank Wells in a helicopter crash in 1994. With Eisner left alone to manage the company he implemented his cult of the personality style of management. Eisner¿s worse traits took control of the company culture as he refused to share credit, or give credit, bullied managers, fired anyone who was viewed as a successor or contributed anything to results. It¿s almost like he wished certain people to whom he delegated would fail. Over and over again he is caught saying if he only had more time he could turn this or that (ABC) around, but he did not want to undermine his managers. You read this wondering why did it take till 2002 for some on the Disney board to begin to rebel and ask for Eisner's head? But Eisner ran roughshod over the Board. The story of what he did to Andrea Van de Kamp to remove her from the board is just awful. And then the real highlight of the narrative is Eisner¿s buying the Fox Family channel for $5.3 BILLION without any plan or due diligence, only to find out that months later the purchase was worth maybe $4 BILLION less. Eisner is the dark prince of ego and arrogance and some of his management team come off little better as they are more concerned for their own welfare than the companies employees or shareholders. In the end the one thing that struck me as most interesting was that 72.5% of Disney employees voted via their 401K shares to remove Eisner in the shareholder revolt. Eisner had the hearts and minds of only 27.5% of those who worked for him. This all certainly is a major blow to those who would push the myth that business experience is a must in political leaders. If you learn nothing else this book demonstrates the consequences of not doing your homework, and having a leader who does not ask questions or listen to those closer to a given transaction. A leader that has all the answers is no leader. How many other CEOs could learn from Eisner's mistakes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    Great, easy to follow read

    I loved Den of Thieves, and Mr. Stewart does another fantastic job with Disney War. Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Mr. Stewart goes from writing a simple book about an entertainment company to being at the thrust of the last couple of years of turmoil at the Disney organization. It was clear to me that Mr. Eisner went from knowing all of the right moves to alienating himself from everyone on the Board and the Company. He made too many decisions on his own, and this led to his downfall. Mr. Stewart does a great job of explaining alot of intricate business details explicitly so anyone can pick this book up and follow it easily. Another great job by a great author and storyteller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2005

    Good Job!

    Disney Wars is right up there with Den of Thieves. Interesting and well documented. It makes one wonder how Eisner was able to live off the first few years of his reign for a 22 year career at Disney. Eisner, Iger, etal. are no different than other corporate suits that are greedy and are more concerned in protecting their turf than doing things that would advance the company's performance and shareholder value. Stewart shows us how they succeeded despite their errors, misjudgements and self-absorbed egomanical ways. Many creative and talented subordinates were dismissed and/or dissed who would have brought even greater success to WD Corp. if they were given the responsibility to make decisions based on their particular talent. If this book accomplished anything it eradicated whatever respect and admiration I had for Michael Eisner. The self proclaimed genius is nothing more than a backstabbing, two faced fabricator. The real shame is that the spineless board, with the exception of Roy Disney, didn't act years sooner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2005

    Good book

    It's always good to see what's going on inside the boardroom. Where there is money there is politics. A comparison of Disney would be the HP story with Carley now being canned. Another good that I just read is Stop Working by Rohan Hall. DisneyWar reminded me of some of Hall's concepts in his book.

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    Posted December 29, 2010

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    Posted October 20, 2012

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    Posted May 18, 2011

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    Posted June 29, 2009

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews

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