Media Man: Ted Turner's Improbable Empire

Overview

"Auletta puts the most human of faces on Turner yet . . . [as] a tycoon who has lost his power." —BusinessWeek
Ted Turner revolutionized television. Foreseeing cable's potential in its infancy, he parlayed a tiny UHF station in Atlanta into a national superstation, invented CNN, and transformed sports teams and the MGM film library into lucrative programming. Ken Auletta, the most respected media journalist in America, enjoyed unparalleled access to the outspoken and defiant Turner in writing this book (named one...

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Overview

"Auletta puts the most human of faces on Turner yet . . . [as] a tycoon who has lost his power." —BusinessWeek
Ted Turner revolutionized television. Foreseeing cable's potential in its infancy, he parlayed a tiny UHF station in Atlanta into a national superstation, invented CNN, and transformed sports teams and the MGM film library into lucrative programming. Ken Auletta, the most respected media journalist in America, enjoyed unparalleled access to the outspoken and defiant Turner in writing this book (named one of BusinessWeek's Top Ten Books of 2004), capturing the visionary businessman as he built—and lost—his improbable empire.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
“A nuanced and engaging portrait of an immensely complicated man. . . . The book hits its highest notes in depicting how a mercurial cable mogul revolutionized the news industry—and then watched as the manic boom-and-bust cycle of the 1990s swallowed up and regurgitated his prize innovation. . . . Readers may find more detailed analyses of the merger of AOL and Time Warner, but they will find none more entertaining, straightforward, or comprehensible.”
Publishers Weekly
Auletta wrote an excellent New Yorker profile of media mogul Turner in 2001, but this expanded look at the complex figure lacks depth. Auletta describes how Turner, an "obstreperous" Southerner, changed television by turning a tiny Atlanta UHF station into a national cable powerhouse. He covers Turner's other professional moves, such as the launch of CNN and the sale of his company to Time Warner, and addresses darker moments, too, illuminating Turner's difficult childhood under a domineering father, and, later, his divorce from Jane Fonda. To write this retrospective, Auletta conducted nearly 20 hours of taped interviews with the executive. Unfortunately, it seems the author didn't use much of that transcription. Although he touches on Turner's major life events and business decisions, Auletta provides what feels like an executive summary of a much larger, more satisfying book. In describing Turner's education at Brown University, he gives scant detail about quirks and high points, then notes, "He was a first-class jerk." Sections on Turner's business acumen the real meat of his life receive the same glossed-over treatment. Turner's tale doesn't unfold naturally, but rather, progresses like a PowerPoint presentation. The biography is loaded with detail, but very little personality unfortunate, given its fascinating subject. 6 photos. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Sept.) Forecast: A PBS documentary on Turner airing in October could bump sales. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Celebrated media journalist Auletta takes on celebrated media giant Turner. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393327496
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/2005
  • Series: Enterprise Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,056,427
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Auletta writes the "Annals of Communications" for The New Yorker and is the author of nine previous books, including Greed and Glory on Wall Street, Three Blind Mice, The Highwaymen, World War 3.0, and Backstory. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

1 Getting fired 13
2 Father and son 19
3 The rabbit 29
4 The rabbit mates 56
5 A billionaire Jeremiah 82
6 Turner wrestles the bear 88
7 The merger from hell 96
8 Hubris 125
9 Exits 143
10 Zorba the Greek 171
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2006

    The Rise and the Fall of the Turner Empire

    How does a guy who sells billboards create a media empire? In 2001, author Ken Auletta won a National Magazine Award for his profile of media mogul Ted Turner in `The New Yorker¿. In this book, he expands this profile, giving colorful detail about the remarkable life of the colorful, outspoken and complicated business cowboy. Auletta shows that Turner is shocking, abrasive and driven, but he rarely goes more deeply into Turner¿s motivations than to explain his rebellion against his father. The book chronicles Turner¿s revolutionary, meteoric creation of a cable empire, including the nation¿s first cable superstation, and the founding of CNN. It follows Turner as Time Inc., gobbles up his thriving company. Auletta takes a hard look at the personalities that engineered the formation of AOL Time Warner, then the world¿s biggest media company. Unfortunately, at this point, Auletta becomes preoccupied with the dealmakers and - like AOL TW - places Turner on the back burner. This is just a detour, however, from his compelling portrayal of a corporate superstar who ran his business from his gut. We recommend this fascinating read.

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