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A Giant Cow-Tipping by Savages: The Boom, Bust, and Boom Culture of M&A Hardcover – 12 Nov 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (12 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230341810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230341814
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Not only does this intriguing book bring to life the real Gordon Gekkos of the world but it also puts their actions and achievements into a global financial context...detailed and lively' - Economist Intelligence Unit 'an entertaining history of the American merger-and-acquisition scene since the mid-1980s...the outsized personalities, and the way they behaved, make for eminently readable stories' - The Economist

Book Description

From corporate boardrooms to coke-filled offices, this dramatic narrative starts at the origin and moves through to the present and next wave of Mergers and Acquisitions

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By NCS on 26 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting in some paces, quite boring details at other places.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Needs a total re-write 26 Nov. 2013
By Brian G. Ruschel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First, I think the other raving reviews are all or mostly fake. Second, although this book was basically interesting, it was very hard to read and had a lot of weird padding and was mostly hard to follow--as if it was mostly just thrown together from a bunch of American Lawyer and other articles, with almost no editing. Many sentences were convoluted and I had to read them over again to figure out what being said. Very many sentences start out saying something and then by the end of the sentence, I'd be thinking "what?" and have to go back and figure it out. The author also had an annoying habit, in talking about something in the past, of talking in the present tense and changing to the past (as it should have been from the start). A lot of the headlines were odd (and actually hard to read), with a layout starting in bold and continuing in regular font. Lots of weird details thrown in: and I couldn't couldn't figure out why they were in there. For example, the author has a bunch of paragraphs and tiny indented quotes dealing with some Delaware judges, and after reading it all, I totally couldn't figure out why most of it was even in there. The author also includes an excruciating amount of detail about a young lawyer who confessed to his firm (after being strongly suspected) of giving tips to Dennis Levine, and about all the letters of support he got when he barely got reinstated to the bar to practice law, etc., etc., and his brain tumors, marriage, family, etc., etc. ad nauseum. In the meantime, I'm sure many other hundreds and hundreds of lawyers were just as important in doing the legal work on these mergers and transactions.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Savages and M&A Transactions 30 Jan. 2014
By Doug Cornelius - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The 1908s was the start of the M&A boom, glorified on the big screen by Wall Street. John Weir Close looks back at those days in A Giant Cow-Tipping by Savages.

The author is a lawyer and a journalist. He founded the M&A Journal and was an editor at The American Lawyer. His book seems to wrap more context, color and gossip around his old stories on M&A deals. The book reads like a collection of stories and lacks a coherent narrative.

You may guess from the title that Mr. Close may have warm feelings for M&A nostalgia, but has no love for the players. He dwells on their flaws. For many of the key players, those flaws were deep.

Many of the deals were deeply flawed. Bidders were fueled by fee-seeking advisers, cheap debt, and hubris. Many of the deals highlighted in the book lead to poor or disastrous results for the companies involved. The reality is that many of the mergers did not necessarily prove beneficial. The resulting company was laden with too much debt or managers who didn't understand the business.

The book starts by painting the corporate raiders as savages who brought down the managerial elite. CEOs and boards were sitting in comfortable seats and never feared that someone would come along and try to takeover their companies. Companies were then viewed for the break up values and the savages could rip it into pieces to create more value.

The book's title comes from a statement by Ted Turner during the AOL acquisition of Time-Warner. He didn't understand how a publisher, trying to sell magazines for a few dollars an edition, could combine with a company trying to give that content away for free. Turner was proved right as the AOL Time Warner merger is one of the worst business combinations of all time and cost Turner a fortune.

Since the book is really collection of stories, it is uneven. Some stories and some players are more interesting than others. Mr. Close is better at eliciting an interesting story in some chapters, but not others. At many times, the lawyer side takes over and dwells on uninteresting minutiae.

If you loved the merger stories of the 1980s you'll like the book. Otherwise it may not be a good addition for your to-read stack.

Disclosure: The publisher sent me a copy of the book to review.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Solid Insight and Information 29 Oct. 2013
By Dr. ANNE T. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great title captures you and then the story takes you on a journey unlike any other. It's a mesmerizing combination of "House of Cards," "Inside Job," and "I, Claudius," --the 70s series about ancient Rome. It's full of detailed and well-researched information and insight that comes from the author’s long experience of reporting on mergers and acquisitions. There are nefarious characters and sad dysfunctional people, as well as courageous and brilliant and determined fighters for their place among the powerful. I felt pulled through the story with speed and care, and by a welcome clarity. The author’s writing is excellent, and captures an amazing picture of the world of finance and intrigue. This is a superb piece of work. It deserves to become a classic.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Title and a Pretty Good Book 30 Jun. 2014
By TopCat19 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is certainly a worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in business, investing, economics, and that sort of thing. The one caution I would have is that this is indeed a history of M & A, and the main thrust of the book are the deals and personalities from the "early days" of what is considered to be modern M & A activity, starting in the 70's and 80's. More current information comes toward the end of the book, and it almost seems an afterthought. I guess because the book is fairly new I was expecting the focus to be on more current merger activity. but this is a minor quibble, and I should have read the synopsis more carefully. Anyway, after I mentally shifted gears, I enjoyed the book. I've been investing, and reading about anything relating to business and investing since the 1970's, so I was familiar with all of the cases that he features, but I've found that it generally proves interesting to read about these deals from different perspectives, and the author had a lot of interesting insights on the deals and dealmakers involved. I will to some degree agree with other reviews in that the book does seem a bit disjointed, and some of the deals he showcases are more interesting than others, but it's more of an annoyance than a fatal flaw. I also like how he takes the time to talk about the Delaware Chancery Court system, as it does play a vital role in business disputes, and most likely not many people are aware of the court at all, or if they are, probably don't know very much about it. While it's not a tutorial by any means, he does have some good information that was interesting to read (and I live in Delaware, so it was kind of fun to read about it from a local point of view). Overall, a very good book that I enjoyed. Reading this book was time well-spent.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sort of like "Mad Men" in the sex and drugged fueled 80s 21 Oct. 2013
By John Palacio - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A good read. Not only are the stories of these driven and megalomaniacal men fascinating and outrageous, but the author convincingly details how the birth of modern M&A ushered in a social revolution in the world of business that shapes us today.
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