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Summary

The dramatic inside story of the downfall of Michael Eisner - Disney chairman and CEO - and the scandals that drove America's best-known entertainment company to civil war.

"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 Disney does business and its products are cherished.

Drawing on unprecedented access to both Eisner and Roy Disney, current and former Disney executives and board members, as well as thousands of pages of never-before-seen letters, memos, transcripts, and other documents, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years: What really caused the rupture with studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, a man who once regarded Eisner as a father but who became his fiercest rival? How could Eisner have so misjudged Michael Ovitz, a man who was not only "the most powerful man in Hollywood" but also his friend, whom he appointed as Disney president and immediately wanted to fire? What caused the break between Eisner and Pixar chairman Steve Jobs, and why did Pixar abruptly abandon its partnership with Disney? Why did Eisner so mistrust Roy Disney that he assigned Disney company executives to spy on him? How did Eisner control the Disney board for so long, and what really happened in the fateful board meeting in September 2004, when Eisner played his last cards?

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. It tells a story that - in its sudden twists, vivid, larger-than-life characters, and thrilling climax - might itself have been the subject of a Disney classic - except that it's all true.

©2005 James B. Stewart. All rights reserved. (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Gripping, insightful but ends abruptly.

As the book was published in 2005, the ‘story’ ends on something of a cliffhanger. The Eisner era was coming to a close by this point but with Disney’s most recent animation at this point being ‘Home on the Range’, the creative and financial turnaround post Eisner goes untold.
If only there was a part 2! Otherwise, it’s a fascinating journey while it lasts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The not so magical world of Disney

An interesting look behind the scenes at one of the largest media conglomerates of recent generations. Covering the less publicised boardroom politics and near Machiavellian intrigues, during the reign of Michael Isner - who headed the company during both its 'renaissance' and subsequent direct-to-video fall from grace.
Despite a somewhat dry and factual accounting (which is, in actuality, to its credit) kept me hooked and coming back from start to finish.

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  • Casey
  • 14-02-18

One of My Favorites

I bought a version of this book released by Blackstone when I first joined Audible in 2006. Even though this is not a new recording I picked up this version as well as I had a credit I needed to spend.

This is a great book that goes inside the tenure of Michael Eisner as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. While there are a few errors in the text that I noticed and at least one mispronunciation of a name, it is still as engrossing as the first time I listened to it back in June of 2006. In fact, I am probably still an audible member today in part because of how much I have enjoyed relistening to this one over the years.

It is a lengthly listen at over 25 hours but it is never boring. Some of the most interesting aspects are learning of the shows and movies that Disney could have made but passed on like Lord of the Rings and Survivor. I think this a must listen for anyone interested in Disney history or anyone interested in knowing how to business both the right and wrong way.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • rotinaj
  • 18-12-17

Really interesting story... No ending.

What made the experience of listening to DisneyWar the most enjoyable?

The story of the Second Disney Golden Age was really fascinating. Hearing about the events that led up to the Little Mermaid, Toy Story, the Lion King, and then the descent into not-so-good stuff with Pocahontas and the Hunchback was really cool. As was hearing about all of

Who was your favorite character and why?

They were all repugnant jerks, for totally different reasons. Of the main lot, I'd say Jeffrey Katzenberg, even though I know he's a massive tool as well.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The final schism between Katzenberg and Eisner.

Any additional comments?

Be warned, this book doesn't have a conclusion. It just kind of ends. I was fully expecting to hear the results of Eisner's ouster from Disney, and it ends way before then. Which was a bummer. It was still totally worth listening to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • jd_phd
  • 07-02-18

Moves along like fiction

What did you love best about DisneyWar?

The narration moves briskly despite personal accounts and material from many of the book's stakeholders/participants. The author does a fantastic job establishing context and then building upon it with personal accounts.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Michael Eisner. He is such a tragic figure. On the one hand, he was a major factor in Disney's worldwide relevance today, while on the other he was a manipulative, backstabbing, power-hungry executive who had no desire to share power (or credit) with anyone. He is totally on-par with Disney's most iconic villains!

What about Patrick Lawlor’s performance did you like?

The narrator's tone was well-matched to the topic and his oration was poised; brisk, but never rushed.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found myself unable to stop listening to it. I felt so emotionally invested in what I was listening to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-01-18

Great Follow Up to Walt Disney Biography!

After finishing Walt’s biography “Walt Disney - The Triumph of The American Imagination” which was a good 40 hour listen, I was clamoring for more Disney inside stories and what happened to the company after his passing. And even though this book picks up about 20 years after his death, whoa is it filled with a roller coaster of drama within the Walt Disney Company. Following the story of CEO Michael Eisner, you are in for all the behind the scenes tales you can handle covering favorite films like beauty and the beast, lion king, Pirates of the Caribbean, and easily a hundred other titles from TV shows to actors are weaved in and out of this story. Particularly Internet is hearing a lot about Harvey Weinstein knowing what we all know now... the reader is fantastic having specific voices for various prominent characters and giving his all to convey the emotion that ran high behind Disney’s doors from the 80’s to the early 2000’s. My biggest fault is the book has no real ending. But the ride is fantastic!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • WesleyS
  • 22-10-18

One of my all time favorites!

This is by far one of the best Audiobooks I have ever listed to! I cannot recommend this book enough, especially if you are a fan of Disney/corporate history.

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  • Jeff
  • 07-10-18

Surprised How Much I Loved It

TLDD: Extremely interesting and enjoyable. Great narrative structure and the voice performance seemed perfect for this book.

I’m a fan of books that chronicle the behind the scenes events and business decisions behind media companies. I’m also a Disney fan so this book seemed perfect. I was hesitant to start however because of the length and my knowledge from prior similar books that large portions can drag (the ESPN Book comes to mind).

The book never felt like it dragged. Because of how well known Disney and its subsidiaries and content are, it felt like I was always listening to the events surrounding things I recognized or was interested in. Always wondering what the next movie or show was in the next chapter.

Following Eisner was also extremely interesting. I won’t spoil anything, only say that the authors narrative structure was extremely effective and easy to follow given it traces real life events from multiple perspectives.

The voice work was also on point. Many names are similar in the book and yet I never had a difficulty time knowing who was speaking in a conversation. The performance was still subtle enough not to seem out of place in non fiction.

If you’re a fan of corporate tell-alls and interested in Disney you won’t be disappointed.

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  • Shannon Carty
  • 22-08-18

An Unexpected Page Turner

I was expecting an interesting book going into this title, seeing as it came highly recommended by a favorite youtuber. I was not expecting a can't-put-it-down, just-thirty-more-minutes roller coaster. I wasn't even overly engaged in the book topic at first. That quickly changed as the author rolled out the "Shakespearean drama" that was the Eisner Era. I flew through this title in 3 days and could have easily enjoyed the author covering the next 10 years of the Disney company.

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  • Morticia
  • 17-08-18

A fun peek into the Eisner Era at Disney

Hours of entertainment. Boy, Eisner was hilarious!
Also nice knowing that others, not just Eisner where comically bad or inept.
A great listen while you're doing chores or commuting to work, DEFINATELY worth the credit!

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  • Sebastian
  • 11-08-18

Bloated.

I would be just fine reading the epilogue. Or a 30% shorter version. Diehard business fans only. Plus surprisingly silent on California adventure.

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  • Patrick O'Brien
  • 06-08-18

Two thumbs up

Very well written and easy to get hooked on. The narrative non-fiction makes for a very entertaining listen. The title is very timely given all of the M&A activity in the media space currently.