"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)
Some reviews focused on issues with the editing, but I found any errors to be very minor and not at all distracting. The book itself was incredibly interesting and very well laid out. Furthermore, the narrator did an excellent job. After 16 hours of listening I began to dread the that only 8 hours remained. What makes this story so fascinating is the amazing behind the scenes view which caused my repeated astonishment at the way these executives behave. The story is often uplifting as you hear early brainstorming sessions about potential movies such as The Lion King and The Sixth Sense. However, this is outdone by the descriptions of boardroom struggles, executive infighting and the vast sums of money that seem to fly around.
There are seven indisputable technical errors in this audiobook: two in the first download; two in the second; and three in the third. However, they happen so fast and are so quickly corrected that you won't even linger on them. I resisted downloading this book for a week because of the previous reviews, but I have to say now that I'm so glad I bought it. It is, quite simply, a remarkable work, one that will grab you by the guts and drag you along. To say that there are "50" errors, as a previous reviewer stated, is hyperbole. The reader does pause occasionally, but none of those pauses lasts for more than three seconds, and they certainly don't affect the experience. If you download DisneyWar, you won't be disappointed.
An amazing tale of the rise and fall of Disney during the Eisner era. A lot of detail here, including full blow-by-blow accounts of the Katzenberg and Ovitz fiascos.
It's largely critical of Eisner, but it does give him credit for much of the incredible success of the 80s. It essentially divides the Eisner years into two eras: during Wells' tenure as President, when everything Eisner touched turned to gold, and after Wells' death, when everything Eisner touched turned to lead. Makes you wonder where Disney would have been if Wells hadn't died so tragically.
The narrator is excellent. Overall, highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Disney and/or corporate politics.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in corporate America and/or the Walt Disney Co. in particular. After reading the initial reviews of this book from other listeners I almost didn't buy it. While there are some minor, very minor, problems with the audio book they are more than made up for by the dynamic reading this book has received.
The authors writing style is completely captivating and I found myself wanting the book to continue on even after the nearly 26 hours I had devoted to its reading.
This is a must-read!
If Disney's movies and tv efforts were as fascinating as this book, they'd be back at number one in the entertainment field. This is so well written and researched that it holds you captive till the end, waiting to see what happens next like a great mystery. Great choice, even for those who are not usually interested in corporate non-fiction.
I enjoyed Mr. Stewart's startling portrait of Michael Eisner's tumultuous reign at Disney very much. However, this is easily the most error-filled audiobook I've yet encountered. While I didn't keep track, I'd guess there were 50 mistakes that were evident to me, all things that should be caught in editing and proofing: repeated phrases, repeated words, long silences, mis-spoken names (Eiger when it should be Eisner, ABC when it should be CBS, etc.) Proofing a 25-hour audio book is no doubt a tedious task, but releasing the audiobook in this ragged form seems rather disrespectful of the listener, and a shame for such a quality work.
I would love to give James B. Stewart's Disney War a five star rating. His work in compiling this important document is impeccable and I respected his effort and the final product. HOWEVER, the editing and narration of this book were nightmarish. Mispronunciations galore, but even worse we were subjected to passages repeated many times. Obviously the narrator was doing a couple of takes on certain sections and the editor left them all in for us to ponder. What a disgrace to an author's work. This audiobook is ludicrous.
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
I know the whole newspaper and media story of the Eisner era. I have many friends that worked at Disney during that time and told me some of the stories. But this gives you an insight from inside the offices point of view.
Talk about Pirates of the Caribbean, WOW! The whole network of people created by the influx of Hollywood deal riders injected into the Disney head by Eisner was like a pirate movie gone bad ... for the pirates! Nobody trusted one another especially true of Eisner himself. He would hire his friends and colleagues and after a certain period of time he'd start feeling like they were out for his job. The amount of lies and deceit on his part alone is staggering. Eisner couldn't tell the truth to save his black soul. I'm amazed Disney survived the Eisner era, maybe it was in spite of him.
The amount of arrogance displayed by Eisner and his recruitments towards each other launched infighting comparable to a third world nations' rebel coup of it's government. Everyone suspicious of everyone else in the coup. The leader constantly expecting that knife in the back from the dark corners of his regime, a product of his own paranoia.
The reason I've given this a lower rating is - the book was recorded without editing out the mistakes and rereads. In fact I don't think any of it was edited at all. So you end up with the same lines being read over again here and there thru out the book. I thought I was hitting the rewind button.
Another reason is this book was finished before Eisner was fired from Disney. I still want to hear how that all came down right up to, "Clear out your desk, dick head!" I felt short changed.
I will say this, it moved along and was as fascinating as any fictional story of this type. I didn't expect it to be. I think that it really happened makes it even more compelling. There are sharks in the water and they eat each other.
The only reason I am not giving this book five stars is because of the technical problems. I found myself comparing The Disney Companies to companies for which I have worked and the people to those with whom I have worked. I am coming away with a little more understanding of the frustrations and personalities of the higher ups in the organizations. I have worked with a few Eisners and it "ain't fun".
By an incredible coincidence of timing, the author was given access to the inner workings of a corporate giant during a time when corporate leadership was unravelling. This is a great text for anyone interested in the evolution and tranformation of Disney, OR, the workings of leadership vs power between a CEO and a company's board, OR a great treatise on why governance rules and regulations have had to change in the last 5 years above and beyond the exploits of Enron. If ALL THREE interest you, this book is a grand slam. This book is almost a novelization of the corporate history of Disney and specifically Eisner, and reads more like a story than a business text. But the lessons are there for all to learn from, if nothing else as a shareholder to consider when making votes in an annual proxy. Good reading.
"An in-depth inside look at Disney"
This book delves deep in to the history and the people who shaped and forged the Disney company that we know today.
Covering many of the boardroom and board members fights and battles DisneyWar tells the stories and rivalries that the Disney brand would not want to associate itself with. The book covers many aspects of the company from the troubled construction and early life of Disneyland Paris their at times troubled partnership with Pixar and importantly the stories of many Disney movie productions and the battles that were happening behind the scenes.
If you are interested in Disney either as a company or simply a fan of their movies you'll certainly enjoy DisneyWar.
"A glimpse behind the curtain at the Magic Kingdom"
A delicious tale of behind the scenes boardroom struggles, set in the era of the Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and the Lion King. The juxtaposition of corporate power-play against family favourites that you?ll remember from your (or your kids?) childhood and the very competent narration make for fascinating listening.
"Fascinating insight into Disney"
If you love Disney, or Pixar then a great listen. I have listened to the Steve Jobs book and a Pixar one, so the next logical step.
If you like understanding more about corporate cultures, then this is also a great listen.
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography- Overlap with Pixar and Disney
Creativity Inc. (Pixar)- Pixar is part of Disney, so common link
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation- Insight into the console industry and it's people and culture.
"A fantastic listen"
This book had me gripped from the start. It is a fantastic account of the management battles going on behind the scenes at Disney from 1985-2005.
I would say this is written in the same style as Steve Jobs' autobiography, if you enjoyed that then I would advise having a listen to this.
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