Barbarians at the Gate

The Fall of RJR Nabisco
Narrated by: John Helyar
Length: 3 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,174 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Barbarians at the Gate has been called one of the most influential business books of all time, the definitive account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history. Bryan Burrough's and John Helyer's account of the frenzy that overtook Wall Street in October and November of 1988 is the story of dealmakers and publicity flaks, of strategy meetings and society dinners, of boardrooms and balls. It gives us not only a detailed look at financial operations at the highest levels but a richly textured social history of wealth in the twilight of the Reagan era.
©2003 Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"A superlative book...steadily builds suspense until the very end." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great book, not so great audiobook

The book has lost a lot in transcription, the original is far too heavily abridged. It is too linear, and has lost a lot of its journalistic depth. The book itself, however, is an absolute must.

19 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Abridged and Poorly Read

What disappointed you about Barbarians at the Gate?

It's only 3 hours long and the narration (done by the authors) is poor at best.

18 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Al
  • 07-14-13

Abridged version does not build enough story

This is stated as one of the all time greats, but after reading it seems the story dosnot come out in an abridged version. Not worth the credits to use on this one.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

3 hour audiobook for a 600 page book?

well told, but only recommend listening if you have read or plan to read the actual book

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

simplified

I am surprise to find out that the audiobook was a cut-down version from the original book. No wonder it is only 3 hour long. I am abit disappointed..

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A little too brief

I have read the full book at least three times. This was a good abridgment but not perfect. The personalities never really got developed completely and the stories that really demonstrated Ross Johnson's extravagance (the dog at the golf tournament) didn't make the cut. If you have read the book you will enjoy this version.

5 people found this helpful

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  • L
  • 05-29-19

Just get the actual book

The authors do a poor job reading the abridged book. The book itself is an interesting read but the authors do an extremely terrible job of reading. The high pitched voice author reads the book at a speed that is so fast I assumed I had the reading speed on 1.5x. It’s as if he was like let’s get this over with as soon as possible and raced against himself. The two authors passing off paragraphs and pages was another bad idea because they had no transitions or feel for actually reading a book. Should have hired a voice actor and had that person read the full unabridged book.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story of "Business" Guys gone wild

Loved the question they imagine the founders of the business would have asked... What does all this wheeling and dealing have to do with the business?

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Barbarians

interesting story. makes me wsnt to see the movie. The LBO process became confusing in how it was executed, but it sounds like it WAS confusing.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wall Street Machinations, Corporate Greed and Big

I missed this one when it first came out. Great view into the machinations of Wall Street investment banking firms, corporate executive greed and hubris and over-sized egos.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chattian fauna
  • 10-30-16

Lost in translation

I was disappointed to find that the full version was not available on audible so was forced to go with this abridged version on the off chance. Bearing in mind the original was critically acclaimed as being an engrossing thriller as well as a thought-provoking business book. The resulting narrative here is pallid and uninspiring. All excitement and compelling material has been boiled out leaving the listener with one of the most dull and tedious descriptions of a business deal ever written.

The narration is at least authentic, but even their authoritative tones cannot resuscitate this dead dog of an audiobook.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • LondonBubble
  • 10-20-17

A great book really poorly narrated

The narration is very poor and a lot of the nice details are left out, I wouldn’t bother if I were you.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • 04-01-16

Fascinating subject - poorly served.

What did you like best about Barbarians at the Gate? What did you like least?

Anyone interested in the machinations of corporate excess, skulduggery and the financial world should benefit from this. A classic illustration of how the business world has changed from emphasising producing goods of quality and looking after their employees and the communities in which they operate into rapacious profit machines which care only about enriching directors and large shareholders.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The authors are far from being natural or accomplished narrators. Dull and monotonous - although care would need to be taken to ensure that another narrator did not attempt to be too dramatic!

Do you think Barbarians at the Gate needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. The story has been told. No doubt there are many similar cautionary tales - but it was the sheer size of the deal and the place Nabisco held in American consumer culture which made this tale worth telling.

Any additional comments?

Buy the book instead!

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Angry Man in a Tracksuit
  • 11-07-19

Total rip off

Not clear from the title that this is a severely abridged version - which means that for £11 you get a 3 hour audiobook which misses almost all of the nuances of the full book

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevine
  • 05-21-20

No real Lessons in doing LBO

This book is merely a story about a LBO take over of a company and whilst the inside story is fascinating it provides no real information on executing a LBO and is worthless as a business book. It's pointless.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-20-19

Great Book

Just wish it was longer, and there were more books on m&a, it's such an interesting topic.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-26-19

Gripping book, not suited for audiobook format

Audio book format is not well suited for a story that involves ca. 30 characters briefly introduced at different points throughout the book

Narrating voice is very fast and not easily understandable by an international audience

Altogether, great book which I'd suggest to read on paper/kindle

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sam
  • 05-13-19

Scintillating read

Great example showings the danger of higher and higher biding. Proves the points that an LBO might not be worth it!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bob the Bard
  • 03-20-19

Definitely abridged

This is one of the most interesting stories to come out of Wall Street. it is also a great work of investigative journalism. This abridgment, though, truncates the story to such a degree that it's just a skeleton. You get the overall story, but none of the detail that makes this such a rich story.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-05-19

Worst narration I've ever heard.

Narrator seems to be 12 year old, swallowing ends of words or entire words and emitting sounds instead like he sipping coffee at the same time. Great story but continuous aggravation from the lack of satisfaction all 3 hrs of it. Could have been a lot better. Next time pay for a professsional, don't get your nephew to do it.

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  • Tom
  • 07-31-16

a lightning fast rollicking ride

a lightning fast rollicking ride through the late 80s junk bond fuelled corporate takeover hi jinks