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War at the Wall Street Journal

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  28 reviews

A tale about big business, an imploding dynasty, a mogul at war, and a deal that epitomized an era of change


While working at the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Ellison won praise for covering the $5 billion acquisition that transformed the pride of Dow Jones and the estimable but eccentric Bancroft family into the jewel of Rupert Murdoch’s kingdom. Here she expands that sto

Kindle Edition, 309 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
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A decently-told story by an author that had a personal stake in the situation and the outcome. It's not too difficult to see where Ellison's heart lies when she refers to Rupert Murdoch and his friends as "robber barons" or when she makes passing reference to the "bellowing" Bill O'Reilly.

My main criticism is that Ellison doesn't start the story early enough. She laments the Bancroft family's decision to sell to Murdoch, but fails to cover the much-earlier family decision to take Dow Jones publi
Nov 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-media
War at the Wall Street Journal takes the reader inside one of the more unusual takeovers in corporate finance. Any story involving Rupert Murdoch is usually a good one whether you consider him the greatest villain the world has ever known or the shining beacon of journalistic truth there is little doubt that when he is involved you are in for an interesting story. On the other side you have the Bancroft family who are the long term owners of the Dow Jones Company whose crown jewel was the Wall S ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dennis Murphy
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-america
War at the Wall Street Journal details the takeover of the WSJ by Rupert Murdoch, and the decline of a paper that was almost quaint in its dedication to journalistic integrity and its rapacious desire to give in-depth analysis over long-running stories that had implications for the entire financial system to a conservative alternative to the New York Times and Washington Post.

Sarah Ellison is a former WSJ journalist, and recounts events leading to a metamorphosis that dragged the WSJ into the mi
Linda Maxie
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Ellison worked as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal when it was bought out by Rupert Murdoch in 2007. I thought this book was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the paper, the traditional values of the staff, and the effect that the infamous media mogul's acquisition had on the paper.

The first half of the book is devoted to the Bancroft family of Boston who had owned the paper as part of the Dow Jones company for 105 years. The intention of the elders of the famil
Oct 19, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book spends way too much time on a bunch of nobodies within the Bancroft family initially. This makes the first quarter of the book quite hard to get into, and, by the time you see how each member reacts against, first the proposal then the vote, you already forgot their backstory and the drama between family members. Sarah also lacks M&A insights/knowledge and so the details of the WSJ journal deal(and those made by Murdoch previously) were lackluster. Not a lot of insight/investigative jo ...more
Book Calendar
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, media
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
George Benaroya
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-seller
Ms. Ellison is quite objective throughout the book. The M&A part of the story is nothing special, just like most other M&As. What is great is her review of the Journal.

She shares how the "old" Journal was about well researched investigative reporting, with articles prepared months ahead. The Journal didn’t put news on the front page. Epic features for page 1 were mapped out weeks if not months in advance.

During my professional life, I have frequently asked my colleagues when debating issues the
Riley Haas
I'm not sure this book is something I would have read were it not for the "Planet Fox" series in the New York Times. But it's a mostly well-told, compelling story of Robert Murdoch's purchase of Dow Jones. I'm not sure it does enough to make it an essential read, but if you're interested in media consolidation, it's probably worth your time.
So, the positives: It's an easy read. And it's a page turner, which is something I don't think you can say about every book about mergers and acquisitions. M
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a former WSJ reporter I was fascinated by this book. From everything I know, it is true, and it had a lot of stuff I didn't know. As you'd expect from Ellison, a WSJ reporter who covered the story, it's detailed, clearly sourced and highly accurate.
It's also very readable. Even though I knew how the story would come out -- the family would take the multi-billion dollar offer, and Murdoch would exert control and change editors and the nature of the paper -- I kept turning the pages to find o
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was written very well. It tells the story of Rupert Murdoch's take over of the Wall Street Journal. The book is written as if it were a novel, and even though the ended (ie the fate of the Wall Street Journal) is known by all who pick it up, the book still holds your attention with just how difficult and bloody the whole ordeal is going to be. Sarah Ellison doesn't pull any punches, and shows the people in the story not in a great light or a horrible light, but in the blinding noon lig ...more
Phil K
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2006 I went to college and really got into newspapers. My favorite Sunday ritual was going through the Sunday Chicago Tribune. Studying business, I was also a regular reader of The Wall Street Journal. Now, having read 'War at the Wall Street Journal' I better understand the tick-tock of what was happening in the newsroom and the board rooms as Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation was bidding for and then taking over WSJ publisher, Dow Jones & Company (2007).

This is as thrilling of a read you wi
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The remarkable attribute of this thought-provoking account was weighing in, and trying to grasp, the passably supposed factors that not only tell how this family-owned media titan changed ownership, and thus the direction of the journal’s reporting structure, but WHY?

This was the key for me; comparing what was, and the benefits to the niches it served, versus the direction where the new owner was looking to take the paper. Ellison does a fine job here, just by providing the spectrum to cogitate.
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Love him or hate him, there is no denying Rupert Murdoch is a business maverick and visionary. Building an immense media empire out of a single small newspaper in Australia is an amazing feat. This "fly on the wall" tale of how he ended up with his most coveted prize is a fantastic read with deep lessons on hubris, multi-generation family businesses and the difficulty of marrying business objectives with those of journalism.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book about one of the most covered deals
Ken Dowell
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's about Murdoch but it's also about a clash between the old world and the new in New York's financial center. The fourth generation of a family owning a prestigious media property comes face to tace with Wall Street's M&A machine. A mismatch. Dow Jones' owners get swept away in the transaction and its management team gets swept out after it. This is a solid piece of journalism and an interesting read.
John Morrow
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book and a quick, engaging read. The first half covers the takeover bid by Rupert Murdoch for Dow Jones, principally on how the Bancroft family dealt with it. The second half covers the Journal post-takeover and the many changes that have occurred. The author is a compelling writer and clearly had full access to most of the key players. It was not my imagination that the Journal has changed more in the past few years than it did in my prior 15 years of reading it.
May 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rupert Murdoch isn't an evil genius, he just knows what people want. A fascinating fly-on-the-wall report from a journalist working for the Wall Street Journal reporting on the process of acquisition. ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i wouldn't have thought i'd be interested in this topic and just started it because it was written by a friend of mine. But i found it to be quite a page turner. very engaging, well written and interesting. and amazingly brave of her to write given that hardly anyone comes out well in it. ...more
Judith Guyot
I liked reading about the process of the whole process but I am disturbed that one man could have so much power and have so many employees licking his boots.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A riveting story that is worth reading.
Kathleen Gilroy
I preferred Michael Wolf's bio of Rupert Murdoch on this topic. But this does give the backstory on what went on with the Bancroft family. ...more
George Defenbaugh
Sep 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Really helped me understand how NewsCorp changes the papers it buys. I've seen these same changes initiated at the WSJ ...more
How Rupert Murdock buys the Journal from the Bancroft heirs and remakes it in his own image. Glad he's not my boss! ...more
Lori Grant
A should-read company profile for knowledge workers, managers, directors, C-levels, and entrepreneurs.
Ed Arnold
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting, if not entirely compelling. If you care about Business journalism though, its a worthy read.
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fair. Interesting about the "behind the scenes" buying the WSJ from the Bancroft family. I like Murdoch. ...more
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