Camp Hardcover – Jun 1 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
No one who attended the Walt Disney Co.'s 2004 annual meeting could forget Michael Eisner's sangfroid before a throng of shareholders who were calling for his ouster.What helped calm Eisner during the storm, we now learn, was writing about the lessons he (supposedly) learned all those years ago at Keewaydin, the Vermont camp where Michael and other Eisner lads before him and after spent many happy summers.Eisner is a man of powerful charm and if one knew nothing else about him, this valentine to a place that is clearly his Rosebud might win the reader over (though an attempt to bring current interest to the account by following two disadvantaged youngsters transported to Keewaydin—thanks in part to the largesse of the Eisner family—doesn't really work). The account intercuts between Eisner's experience and the experience of Keewaydin campers today, with a healthy salting of lessons learned, along with a sprinkling of Eisner family history. Eisner perhaps unwittingly paints an unflattering portrait of his father, whom he calls Lester instead of Dad, while paying extensive homage to Lester's stand-in, Waboos, longtime Keewaydin director.Anyone lucky enough to have a happy, hokey place like Keewaydin in his life—a place of simple, steadfastly unchanging charms—can sense Eisner's manifestly genuine love of the experience.But as it happens, we know quite a lot about Eisner and much of it isn't flattering. [Masters has written and spoken widely and critically about the movie business, Disney and Eisner.—Ed.] So it's hard to stay focused on the Camp text when one's eyes keep rolling. (As when he writes, "Working in business can be another canoe trip.") Eisner tells us the Keewaydin code calls for a camper to be honest, loyal and "willing to help the other fellow." When he then says, "Many of my principles were Keewaydin principles," it's easy to wonder what other Keewaydin alumni might make of that statement.Eisner seems irresistibly drawn to write. That much came through during the Katzenberg trial (notes from Eisner's previous book—Work in Progress—were the source of his famous "I hate the little midget" quote). It happened again in last year's shareholder suit over the hiring and firing of Ovitz as Disney's president. On the witness stand, Eisner had to explain away his own memos calling his former pal a "psychopath" and a liar, among other things.Eisner could not stop himself then, and he cannot stop himself now. Camp was delayed last year, in the midst of the Disney drama, and Eisner comments tartly in his prologue that he was distracted by "people who could have used a few summers at camp earlier in their lives."Perhaps it would have helped if that Keewaydin code had included an admonition to "know thyself." 8-page photo insert. Kim Masters covers the business of entertainment for NPR and is the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else (HarperCollins).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Hilariously dishy....An E-ticket ride through the world's swankest summer camp."See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I liked the way that the two men blended their voice...it helps to make one not focus so much on who said what and stay with the story. Having attened a summer camp (Camp Beaverbrook in California) from 1977-1985 (until it's closing) I, too, can say that much of who I am today is derived from those experiences which give a child a parallel universe to school/home.
His retellings of the pivotal experiences that made him "part of the club" of adults and his realization that at 18 he was IN CHARGE of other people's kids just emphazises how "help the other fellow" is so ingrained in everything that this camp does.
Mr Eisner/Mr McPhee were "helped" into that sometimes horrifying revelation by experienced staffers who I KNOW kept an eye out all summer for transitional teens such as these.
I loved the fact that so many folks return each summer to be "staffmen"; a vision I had for myself regarding "my" summer camp. I was happy to see that people did indeed get that chance because my noncamp friends just didn't "get it" when I would say that had my camp remained open, my vacation would have been spent there.
Thank you, Mr Eisner and Mr McPhee for adding some oomph and credibility behind a general summer camp that focuses more on individual growth in a team environment than on competitive "brackets and ladders" ranking children far too early in their lives.
Individual accomplishment for the good of the team so that everyone can "win". (please do NOT confuse this comment with the silly "self-esteem" movement)
America's shareholders would be far better served by this same approach in Corporate America.
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