DisneyWar by James B. Stewart


8 Critic Reviews

Stewart's prose and approach are meticulous but lack the empathy and deep insight that can make a character truly Shakespearean.
-Publishers Weekly


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 Disney, chairman of Walt Disney Animation and nephew of founder Walt Disney, abruptly resigned in November 2003 and declared war on chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner, he sent shock waves through the entertainment industry, corporate boardrooms, theme parks, and living rooms around the world—everywhere Disney does business and its products are cherished.

Drawing on unprecedented access to both Eisner 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, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years: What really caused the rupture with studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, a man who once regarded Eisner as a father but who became his fiercest rival? How could Eisner have so misjudged Michael Ovitz, a man who was not only “the most powerful man in Hollywood” but also his friend, whom he appointed as Disney president and immediately wanted to fire? What caused the break between Eisner and Pixar chairman Steve Jobs, and why did Pixar abruptly abandon its partnership with Disney? Why did Eisner so mistrust Roy Disney that he assigned Disney company executives to spy on him? How did Eisner control the Disney board for so long, and what really happened in the fateful board meeting in September 2004, when Eisner played his last cards?

DisneyWar is an enthralling tale of one of America’s most powerful media and entertainment companies, the people who control it, and those trying to overthrow them. It tells a story that—in its sudden twists, vivid, larger-than-life characters, and thrilling climax—might itself have been the subject of a Disney classic—except that it’s all true.

About James B. Stewart

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James B. Stewart is the author of Heart of a Soldier, the bestselling Blind Eye and Blood Sport, and the blockbuster Den of Thieves. A former Page-One editor at The Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. He is a regular contributor to SmartMoney and The New Yorker. He lives in New York.
Published February 18, 2005 by Simon & Schuster. 620 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Arts & Photography, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Humor & Entertainment, Biographies & Memoirs, Computers & Technology. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for DisneyWar
All: 8 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 4

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Feb 14 2005

Stewart's prose and approach are meticulous but lack the empathy and deep insight that can make a character truly Shakespearean.

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NY Times

Reviewed by John Leonard on Mar 20 2005

Those of us with a professional interest in how big-screen movies, small-screen TV programs and Broadway musicals get made will devour Stewart's lubricious details on what Eisner, with help, got right.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Feb 10 2005

Because of the high degree of tattletaling in these stories and the requisite anonymity, the book is sometimes unclear about whose version is being presented.

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Reviewed by Jay Parini on Apr 22 2005

Stewart tells this story with an almost indecent gusto, and the result is a thoroughly readable and entertaining book.

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Book Reporter

on Dec 29 2010

DISNEYWAR offers a fascinating peek into the brutal world that was Michael Eisner's Disney Inc., one that will appeal to the eighth grader in all of us.

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Entertainment Weekly

Below average
on Feb 23 2005

It's like sitting through a massive trial, then being ushered out before the jury reaches a verdict.

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Above average

DisneyWar is far from terrible, and is sometimes terribly exciting, but many readers may feel left out or disappointed by its gaps and incompleteness.

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New York Magazine

Above average

DisneyWar, like its predecessors, does full justice to its subject: the black cauldron of the entertainment industry, filled to the brim with egotism, avarice, prevarication, and disloyalty.

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