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DisneyWar

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  5,831 ratings  ·  460 reviews
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 Di
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Hardcover, 572 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  5,831 ratings  ·  460 reviews


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Jim Dooley
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the most jaw-dropping business book I've read. The author is invited inside the Disney organization to find out what makes it tick...and discovers it's a time bomb.

The opening is the Disney version we've always imagined, with the author experiencing a magical moment while working as a beloved Disney character at one of the Parks. He is then invited to record the inner workings of the Michael Eisner regime...almost at the exact moment when things start to go horribly wrong.

What was espe
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Darcy Conroy
I listened to this on audiobook, so I'll discuss the content and the production separately.

Content:
Maybe it's because I'm a trained historian, but I found myself mumbling, sometimes shouting at my kindle: "according to who?" "says who?" "you can't know that was what happened!" There was just too much dramatization in this non-fiction book, too much certainty about people's thoughts, beliefs and conversations to which the author was not privy. I couldn't relax and trust it. Some dialogue is need
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James
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
I feel the need to explain why on earth I would read a 570 page book about Disney under the leadership of Michael Eisner. Disney itself has never held much attraction. When I was four or five I watched what my parents no doubt figured was an educational film about North American mountain cats. Suffice to say the dad dies first and the mother didn't have long either. Wherupon the cubs are relentlessly chased by human evil doers. I think at this stage I was in hysterics and cannot remember another ...more
Joel
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that even a quote family-friendly unquote company like Disney has a sordid underbelly. What mega-corporation these days doesn't (just a tip, if you enjoy Diet Coke, I wouldn't google their international business practices too hard; it's not pretty).

Disneywar isn't quite that kind of book -- we're not traveling into the sweatshops where orphans with bleeding fingers sew buttons on Mickey's overalls -- but it does air a lot of dirty laundry about the 20-year period
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Kris
Such gossip! This covers Disney company history between 1984-2005, including Eisner and Katzenberg's dynamics. It was just... okay. It mostly held my interest. But you could probably get the same highlights by reading Disney's Wikipedia page, and it would take you much less time.

When Stewart talks about the context of particular movies being made, it's rather fun. When he merely talks about "this person said that" and "this person tried to make that deal" or said such-and-such a thing in a confe
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James
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on corporations, the interaction between personality and creativity, how structure affects success, and how Disney became the Disney we think of; when it starts in 1984, Disney was at a literal crossroads but the seeds of its doom had already been sewn...

...okay, too melodramatic but the book is incredibly good and the pacing is exciting as egos go out of control, and it's also full of fascinating insights to how so many of Disney's movies got made (and how many opportuniti
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Maddie
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites-2019
This book was fascinating and difficult to put down, so as far as I'm concerned it did its job.

Disjointed thoughts:

- While reading, I wasn't completely sure what Stewart's thesis was. The book was entertaining, but seemed more like a history of Disney in the mid-80s to mid-2000s than the story of Eisner's downfall. There was a part of me that felt like maybe the thesis was just so obvious that Stewart didn't bother to explicitly state it - that Eisner's downfall and Disney's struggles in the la
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Brittany
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Stewart takes a fascinating in-depth look at the structure and politics of the Walt Disney Company, focusing on the years Michael Eisner was in power. Reporting in a straight "these-are-the-facts" manner, you still get a breathtakingly dramatic portrait of Eisner: His creative, younger years of success, partnered with talented people, and his gradual loss of his sense of reality as he begins to see himself as the omnipotent king of the Disney empire, and the natural heir of Walt Disney himself. ...more
Joseph
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Disney War is encyclopedic in its scope and coverage of the Michael Eisner-era Walt Disney Company. It begins by providing a good background into the situation that brought Eisner to Disney from both his own career leading up to his hiring and the leadership and creative vacuum left after Walt Disney's death.

It then details the rise and fall of Eisner with every machination with a complete cast of partners, associates, and subordinates. What the reader is treated to is a wonderfully entertaining
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Katie
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: cannonball-12
Would I recommend this one? Only if you are extremely interested in this era of Disney history or the politics of an enormous corporation. Otherwise, you can find the gist of the story elsewhere. This book is incredibly dense – it took me over a week to get through because there are so many people doing so many things and eventually there are so many components of the company that it all becomes too much to track. But it is also all very interesting to a certain set of people – me. The book has ...more
Kevidently
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating book.

I couldn't have read this when I was just getting into Disney. In 2007, all I cared about was The Magic, and nothing was going to come between me and it. I was aware of this book but I steered clear of it, relying on rapturous Disney histories and blogs and, eventually, DisTwitter. OK, so it wasn't all rapturous.

DisneyWar charts Michael Eisner's tenure as CEO of the Walt Disney Company. From the early days, when Roy Disney staged a near-coup to get Eisner on board, to th
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Cassandra
This book is about the inner workings of Disney under the leadership of Micheal Eisner. This is by no means an easy read, but if you have any vested interest in Disney as a company or how choices were made for certain films and t.v. channels, than this is a pretty interesting read.
mackenzie
Outstanding. A must-read for anyone who’s even remotely interested in the Walt Disney Company and what went on behind the scenes during the 20-year reign of Michael Eisner as Chairman and CEO of the company.
Seth Brady
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! More internal drama then you could possibly imagine!

What a great book. I had no idea how much went on behind the scenes during Michael Eisner's 20 year reign over The Walt Disney Company.

It chronicles in depth the movement driving his first joining of the company in 1984 (ironically by two board members who fought tenaciously for his ouster 20 years later!), the rise of Disney's 1990s animation renaissance with Jeffrey Katzenberg (think Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The
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Ingrid
Jan 23, 2011 rated it liked it
I initially chose this book because I am fascinated with all things Disney-namely the history of animation and its business wheelings and dealings. I was hoping to get an insider look at how the decisions to many of the elements of my childhood came about, and I wasn't disappointed. I'm going to be honest and say that I picked up the audio book to listen on my commutes to and from work, so I didn't technically read the book myself. Having said that, I think that had I not been on those long ride ...more
Jason Pym
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A tale of the obnoxious dregs of upper management at Disney from the 1980s on, their annual bonuses and spats. This is before the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but he makes an appearance as a respected peer which tells you a lot about the kind of people they are. They are also given surprising creative credit, Jeffrey Katzenberg is said to have come up with the idea for Lion King for example, which does not gel with other accounts, to put it politely. Though it does have an account of him butchering ...more
maggie
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to maggie by: Lindsay Ellis
Shelves: film, recs, nonfiction
at the end when the author is writing in 2004 or 2005 about how despite any corporate bullshit going on people will always discover and love Disney movies for generations to come and specifies how Johnny Depp will always be Jack Sparrow and M. Night Shyamalan will always come up with new sci-fi twists... the Twilight Zone eeriness of reading that in 2019
Barclay Sparrow
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I’ve just scaled Mount Everest!
Brett Plaxton
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A look into Michael Eisner’s 20 year tenure with Disney. I wasn’t expecting to be so engrossed in this story. But with all of the information that the author had at his disposal, he was able to really go into how one of the biggest businesses in the world works. It’s amazing how many wild things happened with Disney in those 20 years that Eisner was in charge.

Being a fan of the book Console Wars by Blake J. Harris, I found some similarities with that story in that they both start with a newcome
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jacobi
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
michael eisner has what regina george wants
Dave Tavres
Apr 30, 2013 added it
Recommends it for: Disney fans, business readers
As a former Disneyland tour guide, I was very interested in the history of Walt and the park (www.WaltsApartment.com) and to some extent, the Disney Company.

This book intrigued me, as it came out during the time that mike eisnerd and his regime tried forcing Walt's nephew, Roy E. Disney, off the Board of Directors of the Disney Company.

It read like a spy novel. Who did what to whom. When did this person know about that. What was being done behind the scenes to get a certain outcome. For ME, it w
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Neo Marshkga
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journalism, politics
I think that, in order to start talking about the book, we need to understand the man behind the story, the CEO of Disney, from 1984 to 2005, and this quote, is the easiest way i can find to do so:

"We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. But to make money, it is often important to make history, to make art, or to make some significant statement…. In order to make money, we must always make entertaining movies, and if we
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Sydney
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5/5

I entered into this book knowing next to nothing about Disney. Sure, I loved the movies and enjoyed a lot of various media they produced, but I knew nothing about the internal workings, enormous egos, chaotic clashing executives, or the political aspects of the company.

This book is centred around Michael Eisner, who was CEO of Disney between the years of 1984 and 2005. I also became very much aware of other key players such as Roy Disney, Frank Wells, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and many others wh
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Casey
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good book, providing a corporate history of The Walt Disney Company during the nearly two decade leadership of Michael Eisner. Going deep into the politics surrounding the direction of the company and the (big) personalities involved, this book was an interesting overview of Eisner’s re-invention of Disney and his later fall from power. The number of current leaders in the American media industry who show up in this story, either as heroes, villains, or something in between, is surprising. The ...more
James Robert
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I first think of DisneyWar I picture classic animated characters having something akin to a squirt-gun fight that is all in good fun. But, instead what we get is an in depth look into the giant corporation that is Disney, and Eisner, the general directing the troops.

Given the title, it might be surprising just how much of a page turner this book is. While we watch the rise and fall of several individuals, we also see those who branch off into separate and successful careers that give us com
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Sarah
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most jarring non fiction I read this year - and not entirely because of Eisner and his mean-girl businessman ethos, but because of the hydra Disney has now become as well as the sheer number of alleged sexual predators that make up the bold-face names of Eisner's Disney era.
Lasseter, Depp, Letterman, Weinstein, and others are all here - and if you read the book in the context of when it was published, it's like "oh, no why is Eisner being so mean to Harvey?". Reading it in 2019, I wa
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Shehryar Khursheed
Disney buying Pixar marked the end of the “Eisner Era” at Disney. This book chronicles Michael Eisner’s controversial 20-year tenure as CEO of the Magic Kingdom. Eisner’s entry into Disney in 1984 came by way of a coup, and he was tasked with restoring Walt’s original vision for the company. Using a low-risk, low-budget strategy that made him a rising star in Paramount, he created tremendous value for the company over his first 10 years. Everything changed in 1984 when Disney’s second in command ...more
Bob McCormick
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Holy lord this one was an exhaustive look at a fascinating period of a specific company's history.

It is nothing less than the rise and fall of Michael Eisner, one of the few CEOs that I can name and identify. He was in charge of Disney for 20 years, and is cited by fans as either a savior or the devil itself.

The book manages to highlight both sides of the debate through unprecedented access to a secretive corporation. It shows the ups, the downs, betrayals and backroom dealings. It also has an
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Rachel Craig
I'm a pretty big fan of Disney content. For the past year and a half, I have been diving more into Disney history, specifically, Disney Theme Park history. Defunctland, Expedition Theme Park, Podcast: The Ride and Jenny Nicholson are just some of the creators where I've been watching/listening to hours of content. One name that keeps popping up, especially in context to the Disney from my childhood (1990's) is:
Michael Eisner
*cue dun dun dun noise* Michael Eisner.

The man that was Chairman and CEO of the Walt
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shirin
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I've wanted to read this for years as I have been a lifelong Disney fan, but also interested in the behind-the-scenes of it all. I finally read it and it was really interesting, a surprisingly easy read despite its length (almost 600 pages) and seemingly dry material. Towards the end of the second part it started to feel repetitive because after 20 examples of Eisner dicking one of his employees over it starts to get tiring, but I still thought it was an insightful book, especially if you're int ...more
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James Stewart is a modern-day muckraking journalist, covering everything from malpractice to fraud and law.

While at The Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. Stewart is a graduate of Harvard Law School and DePauw University. He lectures frequently on values and ethics in American business and politics. He is a mem
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