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The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed Up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, the America's Cup Hardcover – 13 Jun 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press (13 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802121357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802121356
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


[An] excellent book The story of Mr. Ellison s decade-long effort to win the Cup and bring it back to the U.S. under Golden Gate s flag is worth telling, and Julian Guthrie, a reporter for the "San Francisco Chronicle," tells it well. "Wall Street Journal" Splendid Guthrie crisply sketches the complex process that was required for Ellison to establish his own position in the top ranks of yachting and organize the winning team in 2010. A thriller of a tale and a worthy scene-setter for this summer s trophy defense in San Francisco Bay. "Kirkus Reviews" "The Billionaire and the Mechanic" opens with a thrilling scene as old as Homer s Odyssey and as iconic as ones from Conrad, Melville, Hemingway and Sebastian Junger a man battling a dangerously stormy sea. That the sailor, Larry Ellison, is one of our contemporary captains of industry, the swashbuckling billionaire of the title only heightens the drama. "[The Billionaire and the Mechanic]" succeeds as a lively primer, history, and up-to-date soap opera, full of local color, leading up to the America s Cup races in San Francisco Bay. "San Francisco Chronicle" "Julian Guthrie's riveting book takes readers deep into uncharted realms, from the extremes of the ocean to the sublime connection between two singular men. "The Billionaire and The Mechanic" is a wondrously detailed story, beautifully told, by a writer who understands both the intricacies of human nature and the immensity of the natural world."Susan Casey, author of "The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean" Surely the most comprehensive book ever written about an America's Cup challenge, "The Billionaire and The Mechanic" will surely be must reading for any yacht-racing aficionado."Frank Deford From the opening scene in this bookand scene is the appropriate word for its cinematic beginningthe reader is swept along on heart-thumping rides on swift, dueling sailboats, past an assemblage of characters worthy of Dreiser, past the shoals of deceit worthy of Dickens, and coming to rest on the formidable character of billionaire Larry Ellison, who has the will-to-win of his best friend, Steve Jobs, and of a mechanic, who made winning possible. Julian Guthrie writes as if with a magic wand, holding the reader spellbound. Ken Auletta "[A] product of first-rate reporting. . . . A riveting account.""Sailing" "Energetically written .... sure to spark interest among racing fans.""Booklist" "This is one helluva great read. Larry and Norbert - beautiful dreamers both, men with faith in their ability to convert them to reality. This book is fascinating; it informs, educates and entertains about the longest continuously contested trophy in all of sports. This is a must read for lovers of sport, and particularly for sailors. Bob Fisher, author of "An Absorbing Interest: The America's Cup A History 1851-2003" "Larry Ellison's America's Cup victory was as improbable as it was inevitable. The same is true of his alliance with radiator repairman Norbert Bajurin. In this absorbing page-turner, Julian Guthrie tells us how they came together to make history."G. Bruce Knecht, author of "The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race" "The Billionaire and the Mechanic" is pumping with adrenaline and yet full of subtle, surprising details about both sailing and one of the most mysterious, controversial characters on earth. This book is tirelessly reported and Guthrie has a rare writing gift to tie it all together into a work of literary journalism that reads like a thriller. Jaimal Yogis, author of "The Fear Project" "If you're interested in the America's Cup competition, or in sailboat racing generally, you'll love this book. Julian Guthrie's taut and fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the colorful personalities, the risky development of astonishing new boats, and the hair-raising racing tactics of Larry Ellison's long campaign to win the trophy is necessary background reading."Derek Lundy, author of "Godforsaken Sea: A True Story of Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters" "A gripping tale of world-class competition and strategic gamesmanship. . . . It will have enduring value as a great story in its own right.""Sail World" "Entertaining.""Soundings" An up-close tour of how the world s fifth-richest man spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and hired and fired the best sailors on Earth, to win. "Forbes""

About the Author

Julian Guthrie is an award-winning journalist and staff writer at the "San Francisco Chronicle." She is the author of "The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith." She lives in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good and enjoyable book that describes how Larry Ellison (the "billionaire" head of Oracle) campaigned to win the Americas Cup, with failures in 2003 and 2007 culminating with a win in 2010. The "mechanic" is Norbert Bajurin who, as commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, provided the club required to mount a challenge.

The book is clearly based on extensive interviews with the various protagonists, strung together chronologically to describe how the challenges were put together and also how the races themselves were fought. It gives some interesting insights into the life of Larry Ellison, and also reveals just how tricky it is to assemble and hold together the world-class team required to win this sort of challenge.

I found it a little disappointing that the book is mostly about personalities, with the boats themselves - the most extraordinary racing machines ever created - getting only minor mentions. I confess to being biased since I am an engineer, and thus interested in the technicalities, but nevertheless I think the book would have been better had it contained more about the design and construction of the boats, and also about how the crews learned to sail them.

To give just two examples: The Dam Busters: (Pan Military Classics Series), or Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys, both manage to combine the technical with human interest while explaining extraordinary endeavours, and are truly outstanding books as a consequence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disclosure - I work for Oracle (I bought the book though)

Great story about the America's Cup and the twists and turns of putting a team together and competing.

You also get some insights in Mr Ellison's life and thought processes along the way but it's really about putting teams together, racing boats and turning a boat race into worldwide spectacle and the differences between financing and helming/crewing on a boat.

I used to sail & race dinghies & yachts but you don't need to race boats to get this book (though it would help if you know the sharp end from the blunt end as there are some race descriptions which really come to life if you have sailed yourself).

Many favorite parts of this book but I don't wish to spoil it.

I would buy this book again / recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8dda1d38) out of 5 stars 188 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d627b28) out of 5 stars Behind the Scenes Glimpse at an Amerca's Cup Campaign 11 Jun. 2013
By J. Robideau - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I have never followed the sport of racing yachts, I have always loved the science and technology involved in the creation of these amazing machines. I picked up this book for technical information and to be wowed by the details of making the world's fastest non-motorized boats, but instead I found a beautiful story of the inner workings of an America's Cup campaign.

There was quite a bit of detail and it was obvious that much research went into the making of this not-so-short book.

The book started out by alternating the stories of Norbert(the mechanic) and Larry Ellison(the billionaire). This system kept the story moving while the background information was laid out. The stories throughout were compelling and relevant, but the initial story of the Sidney-Hobart Race is what drew me in and forced me to read the book despite it not being what I expected.

The author does a good job at explaining the intricacies and difficulties of what is happening so that the reader can truly appreciate the magnitude of the project.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in yachting, big races, or monumental undertakings.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d773888) out of 5 stars Accidental Gybe? 5 Dec. 2013
By DDT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While this book provides plenty of insight into America's Cup racing, the trade-off is just not worth the value. Too much of Ellison's hand is in this book and it reads like a one sided cell phone conversation and then the final few chapters read like something out of People magazine. There is also a hidden mean spirit here as some very respected professional sailors get seriously dissed in this book, unnecessarily so, most likely impacting their careers. I would highly recommend skipping this book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d77378c) out of 5 stars If you're an America's Cup fan... 8 Oct. 2013
By Blake macDiarmid - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Indulgent. Hyperbole in excess. Over the top. The Billionaire and the Mechanic are all these things, and yet I loved it. Do I believe Ellison took the reins in the Hobart race to save Sayonara at a critical point? Nope. But do I think he has sailed in the arena, paid his money and taken his chances? How many of us would come back after 2 losses in the Cup to finally win, then spend another fortune to make sailing more accessible to the sporting public with the spectacle of AC72s and unprecedented TV and multimedia coverage? This book gives, in albeit a slanted view, an inside perspective on it all.

Flawed, but if you're a Cup junkie you need to have this on your bookshelf. And if you're a hater, hide it in your Kindle... but still get it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d524438) out of 5 stars Fabulous account of one of the most unlikely and entralling sports events of all time 3 May 2014
By James Hine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
say what you want about Larry, but he has a pair. The story is no less amazing even when you know the outcome. in the final section on the 2013 Cup, I rewatched every race then read the corresponding coverage in the book. Great fun.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d8ff9d8) out of 5 stars Great story about overcoming obstacles. 3 Mar. 2014
By timberock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love good lessons tied to activities I like. This ties business practices and sailing. I couldn't put it down.
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