Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN

Me and Ted Against the World the Unathorized Story of the Founding of CNNMe and Ted Against the World the Unathorized Story of the Founding of CNN by Reese Schonfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story behind the founding of CNN is an engaging page turner written by the man who conceived it, but is never really given credit by the “official” history.  Reese Schonfeld, a veteran in the news service for almost 25 years before CNN, gives a detailed account about what led him in the direction of a 24-hour television news channel and how it came to be that he joined with Ted Turner to found CNN.  Schonfeld goes through the pains and joys of creating an entire news service from nothing that stretched all over the world then experience the ups and downs of first 2 1/2 years of operations before being fired and watching his dream steadily decline.

Part biography and part first-hand account of how a medium reshaped society, Me and Ted Against the World could have descended into a bitter rant but Schonfeld gives a balanced account not only of others (most notably Ted Turner) but himself as well (several times admitting where he erred when heading CNN).  Although the book was published before the fallout of the AOL-Time Warner merger was known, Schonfeld’s thoughts on what the merger could do the channel were interesting and pretty good.  Overall the book is must read for journalism students and those interested in the evolution of medium of television.

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Eastern Air Lines: A History, 1926-1991

0786471859-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Eastern Air Lines: A History, 1926-1991 by David Lee Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book via LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

The history of Eastern Air Lines is one of innovation and enterprise as well as one of how bad decisions are hard to overcome, especially when compounded.  In relating the history of one of the major commercial airlines of the last century, David Lee Russell also told the history of commercial aviation in the United States up until early 1991 which until deregulation during the Carter Administration was entirely different than it is today.  Eastern’s history is not only that of a company, but also of individuals.  Russell writes brief, yet informative biographies of  Harold Pitcairn, Edward “Captain Eddie” Rickenbacker, and Frank Borman who led the company throughout it’s history as well as other figures who contributed to Eastern’s successes or failures.  While Russell does a tremendous job in describing how Eastern rose to the heights of its success, the strongest part of his writing is in describing how Eastern died and summarized the reasons at the end of the book.

A Giant Cow-Tipping by Savages: The Boom, Bust, and Boom Culture of M&A

SavagesA Giant Cow-Tipping by Savages: The Boom, Bust, and Boom Culture of M&A by John Close
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I received this book via LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

Beginning in 1981, the business of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) started to change the American and later the world economy.  In his book A Giant-Cow Tipping by Savages, John Weir Close attempts to tell the history and the larger-than-life personalities that dominated the M&A industry.  However, the mishmash of short biographies and short stories documenting major deals is an informative, but meandering read.

The title of this book comes from Ted Turner describing his feelings about AOL-Time Warner merger; through you wouldn’t know it until nearly the end of the book and until then you wondered why Close or his publisher decided on the title.  Then there were the vignettes of Robert Campeau and Ilan Reich that were prominently displayed within the book, but either interrupted the flow of the text or where just there and only later showed to be an illustration of what was happening in the overall industry.  And then there are the sentences that have to be read more than once to understand what Close to talking about or approximate what he means.

The descriptions of the various deals throughout the 1980s and earlier 90s, the period Close focuses on the most, and the history leading up to and sometimes after are the best part of this book.  Having previously read Barbarians at the Gate I was familiar with the most famous M&A deal of all-time and with all the key players.  Close gives the reader a look at all the other major deals before and after RJR Nabisco, but also the relatively minor in financial terms but had a major impact in the Delaware courts and thus had affected larger deals.

John Weir Close was ambitious in attempting to give the modern history of M&A in A Giant-Cow Tipping by Savages, but the final product is unfortunately not equal to that ambition.  The highlight of Close writing is when he describes the events surrounding a major deal.  However connecting between these major deals is at times an intellectual trudge in figuring out how he’s tying these to one another.