Look, I’m simple: if you bill a book as a “non-fictional Succession,” load it with family drama and a bunch of wannabe Richard IIIs and Lady Macbeths, and put billions of dollars and a major media or financial empire at stake, I’m absolutely going to devour it. This is no exception.
As to the quality of the book, it’s fine. Quite good at times.
James B. Stewart wrote the magnum opus of these kinds of books in Disneywar and I was kind of expecting that. But it didn’t go nearly that deep. Stewart and Rachel Abrams focused mostly on the hot goss of the creepy life of Sumner Redstone, media mogul, then transitioned into covering the #MeToo transgressions of Les Moonves (and, occasionally, others). You didn’t get the intricacies Stewart had in his previous work about how Redstone built such a massive empire from the humble origins of a theater chain.
Which is just as well. But ah, man, this one’s just gross.
The board room dealings are fine and fun and enjoyable as everyone tries to backstab each other while wearing five figure outfits and polite corporate smiles. But the way Redstone kept women, treated women, discarded women…yeesh. Even schadenfreude has its limits. And don’t even get me started on Moonves, who CBS was prepared to keep on before article-after-article made it impossible.
So yeah, fun in spots, very well written, and intricate enough without being bogged down in detail. But what a relief it is to be finished with this one. The less time spent with these old men, the better. Let them run nothing.