Friday, July 12, 2013

Between Books - Disney War

Between Books - Disney War

I think it is pretty safe to say that I enjoy the book Disney War by James B. Stewart. Disney War was my gateway book that opened the door to all my Disney book craziness. And it is one of my top five Disney books, one that recommend to even non-Disney fans on a constant basis.

Disney War tells the story of the rise and fall of the Eisner era at the Walt Disney Company. Stewart details the roll of Roy E. Disney in rebelling against Disney leadership which had been under his cousin by marriage, Ron Miller, and advocated for new leadership in Michael Eisner and Frank Wells. Stewart then details the rise of Disney under the new leadership team. With the death of Frank Wells and the disruption of the relationship between Eisner and Katzenberg and the legal proceedings that followed, Eisner began to lose his shine with Disney stockholders including Roy E. Disney. Stewart then outlines Roy E. Disney’s Save Disney campaign which would eventually lead to Eisner stepping down. Ironically the man who helped orchestrate the Eisner Era would also help to close it.

Disney War is one of my top five Disney history books. One of the biggest reasons for this is Stewart does an excellent job of weaving a story. It is as story that involves both the artistic nature of the company, including Howard Ashman’s impact, building of a movie slate, acquisition of ABC, tales of board meetings and the fight between Eisner and Katzenberg. Stewart draws you into the story and I found it difficult to put it down! And it is a book that I have recommended several times and have found even casual Disney fans to enjoy!

I read this book before I was Between Disney. So for me it was an eye opener. I had an impression of Eisner in my mind that this book rocked. I had heard on podcasts some criticizing Eisner but did not understand that potshots they sent his direction. While I did not come to share their opinion, I did begin to understand why Eisner’s decision –making was being criticized. And it introduced me to the silent partner of Frank Wells, who I found attractive to me in the same way I was attracted to the personality of Roy O. Disney when reading books about Walt Disney. And the story of how the relationship between Eisner and Katzenberg disintegrated into chaos is fascinating.

The hero of this book to me in many ways is Roy E. Disney. It is he who would “save” the company his father helped found. And with the rise of a new leadership hierarchy, it is his voice that helped preserve animation. I think that fans are not aware of how close Eisner was of shuttering that unit. And in the end it was Disney again whose voice led to the end of the Eisner era. Though he never held the top post himself within the company, Roy E. Disney’s voice was one that could not be ignored.

Disney War continues to remain one of my favorite Disney books. And I will continue to recommend this text which can be purchased at a Between Books friendly price on the secondary market. If you are a Disney fan, you need to read this book!

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