- Audio CD
- Publisher: HarperCollins - US; Abridged edition (1 October 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061232084
- ISBN-13: 978-0061232084
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.9 x 14.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 45.4 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Barbarians 3/180 Abridged Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD
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From the Back Cover
Barbarians at the Gate has been called one of the most influential business books of all time–the definitive account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history. Bryan Burrough and John Helyar's gripping account of the frenzy that overtook Wall Street in October and November of 1988 is the story of deal makers and publicity flaks, of strategy meetings and society dinners, of boardrooms and bedrooms–giving us not only a detailed look at how financial operations at the highest levels are conducted but also a richly textured social history of wealth at the twilight of the Reagan era.
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Credit must go to the authors for providing the reader a background on each company and person involved then weaving them into the final outcome.
If you like true life stories on the greed of Wall Street this is my pick.
Johnson could be a fictional invention. His rise in corporate power was built on political manoeuvring, extensive expense accounts, fleets of corporate jets (RJR Nabsico had 36 pilots and 10 planes), hobnobbing, and other excesses that make for entertaining (and these days incomprehensible) reading. His desire to eschew corporate tradition and civility is at odds with a traditional, depression upbringing. But Ross was his own man and showed early signs of being an entrepreneur and dealmaker. He was also big on the social scene being president of his fraternity, varsity basketball player, and a Cadet in Canadian military officer training at the University of Manitoba. The book is replete with examples of Ross' love of partying and the good life. At one time he was a member of over twenty country clubs and always seemed able to hit the links no matter what was going on.
The book reintroduces us to the firms and players that would personify a time when financial black magic took precedent over business basics like valuable products and solid customer service (not much has changed). In it are: Henry Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis; Salomon Brothers; Jim and Linda Robinson; Lazard Freres & Co.; Jeffrey "Mad Dog" Beck; Morgan Stanley; Drexel Burnham Lambert; Forstmann Little; Goldman Sachs; Shearson Lehman; and more. The majority of the book covers the feeding frenzy that ensued once the company was in play. Greed, petty jealousies, tantrums, egos, arrogance and ignorance are all in great supply. I enjoyed the side stories covering Ted Forstmann who hated Kohlberg Kravis and John Greeniaus who was one executive capable of actual management.
Burrough and Helyar place the reader in the boardroom, limo, and bar. The book is so well researched, the narrative so engaging, and the pace so lively that it reads like a novel. It continues to influence financial and business reporting by placing emphasis on the very real human foibles that impact those worlds. It made me a bit of a junkie for similar works as I went on to read others of this genre and era including: Den of Thieves, Predator's Ball, Rainmaker, amongst others.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This is a really good book. My only issue with it (and it's really my own mental limitations as opposed to any flaw in the book) is that the cast of characters and companies is so large that I had to re-read sections and take time to digest it all. I got overwhelmed at times and wanted to break out a white board to sketch out an overview. It's a great read though and really hard to put down.
The authors pass along such perfect lines like, when speaking about RJR's expense account manager, "the only man who can take an unlimited budget and exceed it." I also liked Ross Johnson's summary of Wall Street: "Never play by the rules. Never pay in cash. And never tell the truth."
That phrase dots Burrough and Helyar's work - mentioned several times throughout the course of the book- and encapsulates the kind of colorful nonfictional story-telling that's at it's best here. The authors do a masterful job of telling a story about what was the biggest business deal in history and the complexity of the big personalities, big egos, big fees and big everything that encompassed it. From Forstman Little's Crusade Against Junk Bonds (caps intended), to First Boston's out-of-nowhere bid that inevitably set up the KKR win, this book is filled with an abyss of unputdownable plots and subplots that leaves one edu-tained from start to finish.
One of the best things about this book is how effectually the authors try to get inside the heads of the players and mini-players in a manner that adds both color to the story telling and insight into the deal. Like this passage:
"Around eleven o'clock they were joined by Matthew Rosen, the team's thirty-six-year-old tax counsel. Rosen was a lawyer from the 'Thirtysome-thing' crowd: Italian suits, tassled loafers, an office crammed with modern-art [Kandisky likenesses I hear my mind wondering as a reader?], the kind of early 1970s rabble-rouser embarrassed to tell his Swarthmore class reunion he now made millions sniffing out tax loopholes for corporate takeovers".
Some educational takeaways include the role of junk bonds, the intricacies as well as benefits/costs of LBOs with the help of management (i.e. friendly) vs. hostile takeovers, moral hazard/conflicts of interest issues involving banks and financial advisors, the crucial role of good valuation work and thorough due diligence, managing public relations, deal confidentiality, managing Board of Directors relations, information security and bid strategy. Will one be ready to enact one's first billion dollar LBO after completing this book? Not yet. I would Rick Rikerten's Book "Buyout: The Insider's Guide to Buying Your Own Company" if you are looking to gain practical insight on more compact deals for that.
A book I came across entitled, "The New Financial Capitalists: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Creation of Corporate Value" by George Baker and George Davis Smith would also complement the reading of Burrough's and Helyar's book quite well. The latter is a bit more academic than Barbarians At The Gate but it's often both fun and educational to look at some of the same topic matter from different angles.
As far as the history making story emboldened on every page of this book, as the authors say "You couldn't make this stuff up."
Vel primus vel cum primis
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