This is a tale about big business, an imploding dynasty, a mogul at war, and a deal that sums up an era of change. The main character, rocked by feuding factions and those who would remake it, is the Wall Street Journal, which affects the thoughts, votes, and stocks of two million readers daily. Sarah Ellison, while at the Journal, won praise for covering the $5-billion acquisition that transformed the pride of Dow Jones and the estimable but eccentric Bancroft family into the jewel of Rupert Murdoch's kingdom.
Going above and beyond her original reporting and the accounts of others, Ellison uses her knowledge of the paper and its people to go deep inside the landmark transaction - and also far beyond it, into the rocky transition when Murdoch's crew tussled with old Journal hands and geared up for battle with the New York Times. With access to all the players, Ellison moves from newsrooms (where editors duel) to estates (where the Bancrofts go at it like the Ewings). She shows Murdoch, finally, for who he is: maneuvering, firing, and undoing all that the Bancrofts had protected.
Here is a superlative account of a deal with reverberations beyond the news, told with the storytelling savvy that transforms big stories into timeless chronicles of American life and power.
©2010 Sarah Ellison (P)2010 Tantor
“Ellison offers a close look into a raw, aggressive power in international commerce.” (Publishers Weekly)
Perhaps too much for non-journalists, or those not interested in media studies; I myself work in media, so I found this excellent to understanding the back door dealings that sold the WSJ, those who lost, those who won, the details of the Bancroft family's downfall.
That being said: The painstaking detail in which this is told is a credit to Ellison's journalistic ethics, research, and dogged resolution to eschew sensationalism, but might make it too detailed and too much for non-journalism lovers to handle. An abridged version might be nice for them.
Also, would have loved much more description of the Journal's post-takeover policies for writing and the effect of Murdoch on the content of the paper--the book focuses inordinately on the effects of Murdoch on the editorial board, instead.
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