A true story of family, ambition, and greed in the most bitter and controversial takeover struggle in business history. The high-stakes fight between Texaco and Pennzoil to take over Getty Oil is a startling and intriguing case involving family infighting, courtroom drama, and corporate intrigue that ends in bankruptcy and the largest damages award in American history.
©1987, 1988 Steve Coll (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Extremely well researched. I could see where someone would say it's somewhat dry. The complete story of the biggest merger up till that time in the 80s and the lawsuits that followed and almost destroyed both companies involved in the lawsuit. The speaker has an awesome voice for movie previews or a murder mystery TV show but it's hard to follow the story through his voice. There are a couple times where the story and the speakers voice match tempo but it's not till late in the book and it's only long enough for you to realize how distracting it has been.
Gripping elements abound: the absurdities of vast amounts of multi-generational wealth tumbling from the dead hand of a wildly creative-ruthless-disruptive patriarch into widely varied (and wildly eccentric) hands; the wealth-and-prestige-oozing scene rapidly developing a rich ecosystem of alliances, schemers, hangers-on, betrayals, awful legal conundrums trapping the most calculating people; swirling pools and eddies filled with lawyers, syncophants (some in very expensive trappings!), corporate chiefs, raiders, swarming in all directions and alignments, clawing for the glittering (or rather, oily) prize; and the climactic perfect storm systems one can see, brewing, frothing, forming up and approaching, to sweep these characters into fortune or chaos, willy-nilly.
Yet, there is a clear determinism in the sequence of events, a logical flow, but unpredictable, in the way impenetrable chaos is deterministic. It makes sense in the (skillful) telling, but midstream, we can't tell where it (and the characters) will wind up. I.e., this is a great explication of real life, with a kicker of billions of dollars whipped into the mix, a sort of accellerant.
All this is told in meticulous, lucid, businesslike detail. The author understands the legal structures and the stakes, and wastes barely a word describing each moment. The tempo delights me. This is not a sloppily written book. All the weirdness and hilarities of narrative twists are somehow laid out in a sober and constantly understandable sequence. Despite all this, if you don't like corporate/legal matters, you might not enjoy this so much. But for me, the colorful stories of a truly weird family provide a strangely hilarious relief peppered all through the sophisticated structures and plot turns. I can't get enough of it, and fortunately this is a prolific author. On deck: The Exxon-Mobil book. I have a new favorite author.
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