"When You Wish Upon a Star", "Whistle While You Work", "The Happiest Place on Earth", these are lyrics indelibly linked to Disney, one of the most admired and best-known companies in the world. So when Roy Disney, chairman of Walt Disney Animation and nephew of founder Walt Disney, abruptly resigned in November 2003 and declared war on chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner, he sent shock waves through the entertainment industry, corporate boardrooms, theme parks, and living rooms around the world, everywhere that Disney does business and its products are cherished.
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.
Here, too, is the creative process that lies at the heart of Disney, from the making of The Lion King to Pirates of the Caribbean. Even as the executive suite has been engulfed in turmoil, Disney has worked, and sometimes clashed, with a glittering array of stars, directors, designers, artists, and producers, many of whom tell their stories here for the first time.
Stewart describes how Eisner lost his chairmanship and why he felt obliged to resign as CEO, effective 2006. No other book so thoroughly penetrates the secretive world of the corporate boardroom. DisneyWar is an enthralling tale of one of America's most powerful media and entertainment companies, the people who control it, and those trying to overthrow them.
DisneyWar is an epic achievement. In its sudden twists, its vivid, larger-than-life characters, and its thrilling climax, it tells a story that might itself have been the subject of a Disney animated classic, except that it's all true.
©2005 James B. Stewart; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Stewart has an astonishing story to tell. His notable accomplishment is that he tells it so well. The book is hypnotically absorbing." (Publishers Weekly)
I had read this book in hardcover when it came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. I listened to it recently and enjoyed it all over again like it was the first time. If you are a person that has grown up with Disney and a follower of the company, this book is an absolute must to listen to.
The narrator actually did a great job being Michael Eisner throughout the audio. Listen to the book “Walt Disney” by Neal Gabler first because “DisneyWar” seems to practically slides right in where Neal’s left off.
As others have mentioned, the editing on audiobook is not perfect, with a handful of places where the narrator restarts at random and a couple of errors, but it doesn't detract from a very interesting and engaging story. It certainly puts the Eisner years of Disney into new perspective. It seems Eisner was both a blessing and a curse for the Disney company. Who knew a company that people treasure for family values was home to high levels of corporate backstabbing and high drama. It certainly puts the DVD and Blu-Ray retrospectives on the animated movies from the era in a whole new perspective. I enjoyed the book, it was a rollercoaster of a story.
Although it starts so slowly you might want to not listen at all, keep going. It is very timely especially with Steve Jobs' death. Not to use a movie metaphor, but this book gives us a peek, heck, not a peek, it yanks the curtain down. I always thought Katzenberg & Ovitz were 1) "bad guy" and 2) "the dummy", but that was just the spin. You'll also read in detail about Eisenberg's relationship with Jobs, well, I don't want to give it away, but Steve is quite emotional about M. Eisenberg. If you watched TV, went shopping in a mall, visited D-land or Orlando or watched any blockbuster movies, you will want to read (aka listen) this book.
I worked at Walt Disney Studios during the time that some of these events transpired, so I have an extra interest in the topic. But even if you just love the Disney product, this book will be a fantastic read. James Stewart has the ability to make even the most arcane boardroom dealings read like a thriller. Reading about Michael Eisner, and Jeffery Katzenburg's behavior makes you realize that the antics of Ari Gold, the over the top agent on "Entourage", wasn't that much of an exaggeration!
Wonderful read by Patrick Lawlor also.
Non-Fiction, Science, Tech, History & Business
The book was published before the story really ended, so there was still much politics and wrangling ahead of the persons involved when it went to print. After 26 hours reading I was more then a little disappointed that the remainder was not included, given that there has been more then enough time to update the material.
It is hard to imagine that these guys might have ruined one of the biggest franchises out there. Big egos. Big mistakes and some big wins. Big money made along the way. The confluence of creativity and intellectual property with business can be ugly in a big way.
Every time I watch a Disney movie that was made during the time that this book takes place, all the information that I learned about the movie from this book comes back to me. I can't sit there and watch it with out leaning over and saying Eisner hated the "gay pirate" that Johnny Depp was doing. He had to sneak his fake teeth into the set. I just love books like this that have all the private memo's and diaries of the people involved because it is a court case. It seems like you get such a raw perspective because of this. I really feel like I am getting the real story.
It has complete ingredients for an entertaining movie. Well written, and you'll get to know the characters (real people)involved; and like everyone else, they are no different. We listened to it during our long drive to/from Toronto.
As a college student with aspirations of working in the entertainment industry, I have been following the Disney-Eisner scandals avidly over the last four to five years. Stewart's book is a fantastic account of the problems faced by the company in the final years of Eisner's reign. Anyone interested in the soap-operic nature of Big Business will enjoy this book. What I like most about Stewart's writings are his ability to be both journalistically balanced, while also offering the reader a sense of personal connection to the characters. The fact that Stewart started his interviews with Eisner just before the proverbial dung hit the fan, makes his perspective more telling than any other account of this stage in the Disney saga. As others have mentioned, the audio editing by Blackstone is on the sloppy side. This is not that big of a deal if you are listening to the book in shorter increments (while driving to work, or while taking the subway), but it can become frustrating if listening for an extended period of time. Still, the book is fantastic and intriguing. I should note, although my prior knowledge/interest in the information in the book undoubtedly added to my enjoyment, my mother, who knew absolutely nothing about Michael Eisner, Mike Ovitz or Stanley Gold enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Look, this is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. Yes, there are problems. But the BOTTOM LINE is that the author has written a wonderful book that is engaging and hard to put down. The errors are not bothersome enough, in my mind, to take away or even inhibit the message of the author. If you want a good story that will keeping you begging for more, purchase this book. If you like to whine and groan then ....GET A LIFE!
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