War at the Wall Street Journal
Inside the Struggle To Control an American Business Empire
By Sarah Ellison
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780547152431, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 2010
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A tale about big business, an imploding dynasty, a mogul at war, and a deal that epitomized an era of change
While working at the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Ellison won praise for covering the $5 billion acquisition that transformed the pride of Dow Jones and the estimable but eccentric Bancroft family into the jewel of Rupert Murdoch’s kingdom. Here she expands that story, using her knowledge of the paper and its people to go deep inside the landmark transaction, as no outsider has or can, and also far beyond it, into the rocky transition when Murdoch’s crew tussled with old Journal hands and geared up for battle with the New York Times. With access to all the players, Ellison moves from newsrooms to estates and shows Murdoch, finally, for who he is—maneuvering, firing, undoing all that the Bancrofts had protected. Her superlative account transforms news of the deal into a timeless chronicle of American life and power.
SARAH ELLISON led the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones. Her stories about the media business have been recognized by the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the New York Press Club.
“A scrupulously fair, careful account written from a close distance about how Rupert Murdoch came to own the crown jewel of American business journalism. . .What we get is the mother of all tick-tock, an intimate look at how the Bancroft family fumbled away an asset they never really demonstrated much interest in as Mr. Murdoch pounced. When it comes to taking a measure of Mr. Murdoch, there is little of the moralistic keening that characterized the coverage at the time, with Ms. Ellison instead adopting the tone of an ichthyologist studying the feeding habits of a large, hungry shark.”—David Carr, New York Times
“Sarah Ellison has written a definitive, indeed cinematic, account of the News Corporation’s conquest and occupation of this venerable business publication, and of the subterranean battle of motives and moods in the Bancroft family psychodrama . . . She spins an absorbing yarn played out on super-yachts and in corporate jets, populated by an irresistible cast of characters.” —New York Times Book Review
"Ellison, who covered the takeover of Dow Jones as a Wall Street Journal reporter, uses her access . . . to chronicle the deal with precision. Inside the news business such detailed narratives are called "tick-tocks," and hers beats like a metronome.” —Washington Post
“Balanced and nuanced . . . a riveting and engaging examination of the current state of U.S. media and the drama behind one of its most important companies.” —Boston Globe
“In August 2007 Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought the Wall Street Journal, ending 105 years of control by the Bancroft family and shaking American journalism. War at the Wall Street Journal is the inside scoop.” —Economist
"[Ellison] spins an absorbing yarn played out on super-yachts and in corporate jets, populated by an irresistible cast of characters."
—New York Times
"A book as devastatingly definitive as any Journal tick tock."
—Los Angeles Times
"Ellison, who covered the takeover of Dow Jones as a Wall Street Journal reporter, uses her access to ‘all of the significant players in the narrative’…to chronicle the deal with precision. Inside the news business such detailed narratives are called 'tick-tocks,' and hers beats like a metronome."
—Washington Post "The story behind his takeover of the newspaper is recounted in limber fashion in War at the Wall Street Journal, by ex-Journal reporter Sarah Ellison. . . . Based on her original reporting for the newspaper (and re-reported here), the book is . . . scrupulously documented."
"Ellison transforms the daily copy she filed as media reporter for the paper into a nail-biting thriller that delves into the family dysfunction, backroom dealings and ego bruising that characterized the decade’s most fascinating business transaction. There’s a panoply of new material here, from the incessant infighting that rendered Dow Jones’ owners, the Bancroft family, impotent in their final dealings with Murdoch, to the mind-boggling details of the multimillion-dollar severance package paid to Marcus Brauchli, the ousted Journal editor"
—Kirkus, nonfiction supplement
"The Dow Jones saga is a fascinating story and you did a terrific job of telling it."
—Warren Buffett "Former Journal reporter Sarah Ellison's War at the Wall Street Journal - a detailed and fast-moving account of Murdoch's 2007 deal to acquire Journal-parent company Dow Jones - couldn't have come at a better time, just as Murdoch begins his battle with the Times....Ellison's book provides not just a deeply investigated back-story of the deal, but also an insider's perspective."
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