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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  4,477 ratings  ·  298 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
Kindle Edition, 620 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2005)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,477 ratings  ·  298 reviews

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Jim Dooley
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 especi
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Darcy Conroy
I listened to this on audiobook, so I'll discuss the content and the production separately.

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
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
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ingrid M.
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
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to maggie by: Lindsay Ellis
Shelves: film, nonfiction, recs
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
Seth Brady
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave Tavres
Apr 30, 2013 added it  ·  review of another edition
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 ( 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
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 D
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Caitlin Anderson
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fascinating account of a tumultuous time at Disney. I wish that the latter portion of the book hadn't been so entirely focused on the ABC and Fox Family acquisitions- if you read this book, I definitely recommend looking into the Disney Dish podcast for additional history surrounding the construction and initial troubles of California Adventure and EuroDisney/Disneyland Paris.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It gave great insight to the Disney company during Michael Eisner's reign as CEO. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the behind the scenes of one of the most widely recognized companies in the world.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately the majority of this book is about the Disney CEO's that followed Walt Disney. I'm more interested in the creative side of Walt Disney and less interested in the materialistic side of the following Disney CEO's.
Amar Pai
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really into this at Camp Mather. For some reason I find books like this to be excellent "beach reading" (last year it was the book about Marisa Meyer's time at yahoo!)

But this one is really good. Just so much opulence, bizarre psycho drama, letter writing and political backstabbing...

In theory this book is quite boring but like "Barbarians at the Gate" it's a gripping yarn... or at least tricks you into thinking it is for the first several hundred pages
Ali Shaw
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I worked at Disney, people who had worked for the company for more than 15-20 years all had a fun choice of words when they talked about Michael Eisner. This book is the most thorough account I've seen of the years of Disney under the management of Eisner. It's like reading a Disney version of House of Cards
Jacquelyn Dunn
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’d give this book a 4.2/5. It was very well researched, had fantastic anecdotes (which were by far the best part), and was well written for an author with a purely journalistic background. It was a little too dense at parts and overly long, but other than that I enjoyed it. I’d be interested to know if there is anyone working on a similar book for the past 15 years of the company.
Keenan Johnston
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It will be hard to top this as the best business book I read in 2016. Disney allowed James Stewart unprecedented access to both Michael Eisner (CEO) 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. Little did they know what would ensue - unprecedented success in the 80's and early 90's, and never before seen governance and in-fighting at such a public and iconic company.

Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-culture
I never thought I'd find a business book on the inner workings of corporate executives interesting, but then these corporate executives do work for Disney - and that makes it more interesting than most multi-million dollar corporations, if only because of the dichotomy between its public image and the machinations of executives behind the scenes.

This book charts the twenty years of Michael Eisner as CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation, how he went from being the saviour of the company to more or
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Todd Stockslager
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Rambling but fun expose of Disney's run under the leadership of Michael Eisner, this book ultimately is more a series of anecdotes about Eisner than a serious history of Disney.

But Steward keeps it moving with interesting facts and human-interest accounts from the inside of Disney that movie and park patrons never see. For example, when Eisner took over in 1984, Disney owned only 3 hotels, one at Disney Land and two (Contemporary and Polynesian) at Disney World. They were at the time in negotiat
Greg Brown
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty fascinating recounting of the last two or three decades of Disney history, although it suffers somewhat from predating the Iger-era. I would have loved to hear about Pixar's acquisition, but what's in the book is more than enough drama.

Eisner is pretty vividly portrayed as a guy who was a big shot of creativity and energy that the company needed at a crucial time, but who was best when kept in check and when a string of hits staved off the infighting that later consumed the company. Fro
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I absolutely adore Disney and am certainly one who has strong sentimental ties to the company. My dad had been telling me about this book for years and I finally got around to giving it a read. Now, I won’t claim this is the most fascinating books at all times (it is on the longer side), but the buildup was necessary to provide the context for many of the things that happened later in the book. Eisner was captivating to follow throughout his career. While at one point incredibly good for the com ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was one of the most fascinating and informative I've (listened) to. The recording had few hiccups alright, but then the book is rich in history of Disney, and will get you behind the scenes in how the movie industry is run, how the Disney magic happens, the guidelines, and tricks they follow to keep it going. Also it will get you to understand the mystery of the quick fall in Disney movie quality after their successive blockbusters like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and ofcourse the L ...more
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chronicling a game-changing era in the history of the Walt Disney Company, Disney War tackles the reign of Eisner: his rise, his ruling, and his demise. Eisner's accomplishments touched every area of the company, from parks & resorts to film and television. This book shares intimate details of it all. Staying true to its title, it also reveals the cracks in the façade, and the terrible in-fighting that eventually led to Eisner's ousting.

I love Disney - that's my disclaimer. Still, I understa
Christie Cox
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fasinating. The book should really be titled "Lessons from Michael Eisner: How NOT To Run A Company." I can't decide if Eisner is a political genius or a pathalogical liar. He created more drama in the company than a sorority house. Overall, a good book to get lost in. Some parts were dry, especially when discussing contracts, but James Stewart did a great job of trying to give all sides of the Disney story. I recommend it to anyone not scared to see the darker/disfunctional side of Disney.

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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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