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The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T
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The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 1st 1986 by Atheneum Books (first published 1986)
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Bob
Super good, and there's a guy in it named De Butts. What else can I say?
Frank Stein

A surprisingly entertaining look at the breakup of Ma Bell, and an almost perfect case study of modern deregulation.

Most deregulatory tales are told by political scientists or economists, and they tend to focus on the cost structures of different businesses or capitalization rates, but Steve Coll tells the story as only a dedicated journalist could. With over a hundred interviews with the most important players, he manages to convey the chaos, miscommunication, and legerdemain inherent in the s
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William Pentland
This is an excellent recapitulation of the unwinding of America's largest monopoly. It is especially interesting to read nearly 30 years after it was written. The benefits of breaking up Ma Bell did not emerge immediately and did not take the form most people expected. In the short term, prices rose, service fell. In the long term, the breakup unleashed the market forces that drive innovation. That latter impact only began to be felt by the public more than a decade after the events described in ...more
Jeffrey
Very readable account of how the world's largest and most powerful corporation was split up (against the will of the populace and the majority of the government, including the president) by a comparatively small group of Justice department lawyers and politically connected competitors. Washington Post reporter Steve Coll's story is naturally strongest when covering the D.C.-based government story and a bit weaker when discussing the Bell System business issues. I found it a fascinating primer on ...more
Noah
Steve Coll maintains a zippy journalistic pace, and the story of the break-up of the largest company in the country, over the span of a decade, is an inherently fascinating one. You get lawyers, businessmen, judges, on up through Reagan and his cabinet, all involved.

The limitation is that Coll doesn't know all that much about the law or telecommunications, so at times it becomes a battle of personalities or business strategies, divorced from the fundamentals of what was actually possible for AT
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John
This was surprisingly entertaining. It's the story of how AT&T got broken up -- which is arguably the biggest event in the history of American telecom.

One interesting tidbit is how contingent the breakup was. The suit was filed in 1974 when Nixon DOJ officials were distracted. The Reagan administration wanted to drop it, but top two officials had to recuse themselves. Sort of a miracle it happened. It's also a good inside look at how the lobbying world looks on a microlevel circa late 1970s
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Amanda
AT&T was an incredible machine and was totally lost when the government forced it to break up. A bit dry in terms of writing, but content was good to know
Lindsay
Very interesting, engaging book. Courtroom drama. I felt there were a lot of parts that could've been cut out, though.
Conor
Excellent book. Coll brings alive a pivotal time in American history. Great book. Great writer.
G
Inside baseball for telecom nerds, but still with it. He makes antitrust accessible.
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Steve Coll is President & CEO of New America Foundation, and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post, serving as the paper's managing editor from 1998 to 2004.

He is author six books, including The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of AT&T (1986); The Taking of Getty Oil (1987); Eagle on t
...more
More about Steve Coll...
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century On the Grand Trunk Road The Taking of Getty Oil: The Full Story of the Most Spectacular & Catastrophic Takeover of All Time

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