Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
This tsunami of details in this story of the leveraged buy-out of RJR Nabisco would be mind-numbing if it were not for the sharp anger at the incessant and insatiable greed it highlights.
One feels an eerie sense of déjà vu reading this book. The RJR Nabisco takeover battle was fought in 1988, but the unmitigated (and unregulated) greed on the part of Wall Street seems to only have changed in form, not in magnitude. It borders (then and now) on the obscene.
This book is not for the faint o ...more
The atmosphere at Tuesday morning's breakfast between Cohen and Kravis was no worse than that inside any commercial meat locker.
It's about as bad as All the President's Men, but the material kinda saves the ...more
It’s the story of an attempt to take RJR Nabisco private, and then a series of take over attempts that were instigated by the original privatization plan. Johns ...more
Detailed - and downright shocking - display of the egos and attitudes of hundreds of real people involved in the biggest private equity buyout of its day (and until relatively recent days). Describes far too many people to follow and too much detail, but the sheer magnitude of greed, excess and penis envy is amazing.
The DVD of the same title gives the abridged version of the story. It's quite hard to follow the story without knowing the background from the book. DVD also emphasizes Linda Robinso...more
This was FUN! So much so that I went and bought loads of non-fic/faction about Wall Street. What is it with me and the 80s? If I'm not reading about AIDS, I'm reading about Gordon Gekkos.
Anyway, everyone in this is just a monster. And whilst "Barbarians at the Gate" is a doozy title, it's total crap. They're all barbarians. It should be called "A Shitstorm of Evil Bastards".
This book chronicles a selling-off of a major corporation in the late nineties: RJR Nabisco.
As the role of CEO has become more prominent the greed and ego of those in positions have risen. At some point a CEO wanted a bigger fiefdom so they thought it would be smart to combine a food company wit ...more
I just wish the latest edition came with an appendix on how to build a guillotine.
The book turned out to be a wonderful read. I learned a tremendous deal about private equity, the mid-to-late century evolution of finance on Wall Street, and the important role of corporate governance in business. Some of these points were not discussed on an academic level (e.g. ...more
It's probably because I don't get around much, but I've only seen one depiction of greed that I thought was funny, and that's the one from The Addams Family, in which Gomez Addams shows the impostor Fester how to get to the money vault by pulling on the book titled "Greed" on the bookshelf.
Then there's the other kind of greed, the greed that is just nasty, heartless, s ...more
For example, the rise of Johnson through the ranks of Standard Brands, the late ni ...more
Essentially, Ross Johnson rises to CEO of RJR Nabisco through playing politics, scheming with his band of merry men, and schmoozing board members. He constantly shakes up the company because he gets bored easily, and goes snif ...more
An absolutely riveting read, chronicling the RJR LBO story from the 80s. The authors have done a really good job at making this eminently readable and accessible, and one doesn't need beyond a basic knowledge of financial instruments to understand most of the things. And the volume of the book only speaks to the sheer journalistic effort they have put into this, while at the same time not allowing it to become boring at any point. It took me a while to get through ...more
If you are into business case studies or just historical accounts of grand corporate events, this book is for you.
Not for every reader, which is why it is only at 4 stars here, but really a 4.5/5 in my book
- How do companies work? Like in basic economics, you think about market participants each trying to maximize their profits, and everyone acting in their own interest ends up maximizing total welfare, and that makes sense in a zoomed-out way, and as far as I can tell is not a crazy model of ...more
It’s even more interesting to look back at the deal after 20 years in the book’s 20th ...more
The main thing that went through my head for the first ~half of the book outlining Ross Johnson's rise to power -- at Standard Brands and at Nabisco -- was just how poorly corporate governance seemed to work. E.g.: in moving RJR Nabisco from Winston-Salem to Atlanta, Johnson "boosted Sticht' ...more
Prior to joining ...more