5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work about the loss of an American Icon
If you are looking to find out exactly how the Germans came in and stole Chrysler out from under its American leadership, this is the book for you. Superbly written and researched, the book is a page turner that kept me up till the early morning hours. I highly recommend it and hope that nothing like this ever happens again in corporate America. "Taken for a...
Published on May 13 2004 by J. Flesher
3.0 out of 5 stars Good guys and bad guys all over again
This story is one of the best thrillers in the modern corporate world. However, the authors (er journalists) cannot seem to be able to shake off that eternal of vices among the media: subjectivity. The profiles on such personalities as Schrempp and Stallkamp are riveting. However, former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca gets clubbered. I never fell in love with the guy, but they...
Published on Jun 28 2001 by Alex Lukic
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4.0 out of 5 stars This story feels real.,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)I don't know how Vlasic was able to get the information in this book. The conversations ring true to me and this story feels as if it really could have occurred the way Vlasic describes it. This is one of the best books I have read in the past year. He is able to take a somewhat chaotic true story and assemble a story that flows smoothly yet also seems accurate. His ability to draw a picture of the characters is outstanding and they have proven quite prescient as time has passed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work about the loss of an American Icon,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)If you are looking to find out exactly how the Germans came in and stole Chrysler out from under its American leadership, this is the book for you. Superbly written and researched, the book is a page turner that kept me up till the early morning hours. I highly recommend it and hope that nothing like this ever happens again in corporate America. "Taken for a Ride" couldn't be a more fitting title.
4.0 out of 5 stars I was taken for a ride,
By A Customer
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)This book clearly shows the complicated way in which Large corporations do Business. They have a huge job when it comes to competing with other companies. They can very easily be swallowed up by other companies through mergers. deals are not always as good as they seem.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, but definitely get the paperback,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)A corporate merger between car companies. Who wouldda thunk that a seemingly prosaic, esoteric topic like that would result in such a fascinating story? Because this is not just a good business book, it's a flat-out great, spellbinding tale. Even if you have zero interest in the car business, you'll devour this book in chunks of 80 to 100 pages a sitting.
The authors strong point is the richly drawn portraits they craft of the meger's main protagonists and the "you are there" blow-by-blow recounting of key events.
Dominating the book by force of oversized personality and leadership skills is Jurgen Schrempp, CEO of (at the start) Daimler Benz. As the authors state "Jurgen Schrempp knew no limits." The book then launches into a fascinating, compelling 18+ page portrait of a complex, multi-facted man. The book is co-written by Detroit News reporters Bill Vlassic and Bradley Stertz, but the writing is *seamless.* Certainly, the portrait of Schrempp is the work of both writers, but it simply flows as a cohesive piece of beauty.
Another example: "The key to Schrempp's authority was not his rank. It lay in his strategic mastery of people, extraordinary sense of timing, and instinct for the right move under the right circumstances. His persona, intimidating one moment and charasmatic the next, only embellished the power of his arguments and strength of his leadership."
That's the essence of the guy. Vlassic and Stertz have captured it magically.
Other standout portraits include -
> Kirk Kerkorian - America's most compelling and quirky billionare is the surprise star of the first third of this book. This was an added bonus for me - I thought I was going to read a car book, and I got 100+ fascinating pages on Kerkorian and his top-notch inner circle, including Alex Yemenidjian and, especially, a great portrait of Jerry York. Reading this book made me understand for the first time what makes York so valuable to America's largest companies.
> Bob Eaton, CEO of Chrysler - At best, this is the portrait of a guy completely overwhelmed, first by Kerkorian, then by Schrempp. At worst, he teeters dangerously close to an emotional breakdown while negoatiating the future of 400,000 workers.
> Bob Lutz, President of Chrysler - When Schrempp targets Chrysler, he does it because he envisions tapping into a swashbuckling crew of cutting edge carmakers. In short, he envisions the essence of Bob Lutz (and, to a lesser extent, Dennis Pawley and Francois Castaing). But the vindictive Eaton freezes Lutz out of any role in DaimlerChrysler, even though the trilingual, Zurich-bred product development master was a hand-in-glove fit for the new DCX board. Today, Lutz is getting the last laugh, as he revs-up GM at DCX's expense. Meanwhile, Eaton is out there somewhere, essentially shamed into obscurity.
One last note: make sure you get the paperback. Things go so disasterously wrong for DaimlerChrysler between the time of the hardback publication and the paperback release. The authors capture that black, foul period perfectly in a 40-page epilogue to the paperback edition, including the impact of Schrempp's disasterous, infamous interview with the Financial Times, in which he admits he never had any intention of completing a merger of equals. "Me being a chess player, I normally don't talk about the second or third move."
As Vlassic and Stertz conclude, it was a "precise and premeditated takeover" all along. A perfect ending to a truly fascinating book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Interesting,
This review is from: Taken for a Ride: How Daimler-Benz Drove Off with Chrysler (Hardcover)I would reccomend this book to anyone who enjoys following the automobile industry in general or Chrysler fanatics. It gives you a whole new view on the Daimler-Chrysler merger and how it came to be. Not only that but you are introduced to several major players that called the shots then, as well as some now (ie: Dieter Zesche, former Daimler Exec now President of the Chrysler Group.) Definately worth the read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Whoa,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)Taken for a Ride is a great book about the Daimler Chrysler merger. It starts out by explaining who all of the big - time players in the merger are, such as Kirk Kerkorian, Tom Stallkamp, Hilmar Kopper, Eckhard Cordes, and Dennis Pawley. Kirk Kerkorian was the one man that started the whole thing. In April of 1995 he launched a 22.8 BILLION dollar takeover bid on Chrysler. When Daimler got news of this, they called Chrysler to make sure that they had a part in the negotiations. At the end of May, Kerkorian dropped his bid because he failed to line up backing. Chrysler later assigned some executives to explore possibilities with Mercedes Benz. In 1998 Jurgen E. Schrempp ,an executive at Daimler, visited Bob Eaton, an exec at Chrysler, in Auburn Hills to express his interest in a Merger. After this they had to have a meeting about what the name of the new company would be. After the meeting it was decided that the name would DaimlerChrysler AG. After Chrysler Board and the Deutsche Bank approved, Eaton and Schrempp signed the merger papers in London. Finally on November 17 of 1998 DaimlerChrysler became the worlds third largest auto company.
I really enjoyed this book. I think that I liked it because I like cars so much and because my favorite car company is DaimlerChyrsler. Bill Vlasic and Bradley Stertz did a very nice job writing this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My favorite part would have to have been when the two companies were in all the tense meetings.
5.0 out of 5 stars And what a spellbinding ride!,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)This book is excellent reading more like a thriller than a business book about a megamerger (oops sorry, a megatakeover). Wonderfully written and well researched, the authors keep you spellbound for the whole book which I read practically in one sitting as it's that good. Get it and strap in as you wonder in amazement the BS that happens the closer you get to the top of a corporation. You can see a lot of the Enron culture at Daimler.
5.0 out of 5 stars the insider,
By A Customer
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)Vlasic and Sterz give an excellent view of the inner workings of the automobile industry. From executive bios to soap opera plot lines this book is excellent.
5.0 out of 5 stars Piercing the Corporate Veil,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)You know the old saying, you don't want to know how frankfurters and laws are made because it would make you nauseous. This fascinating book adds corporate mergers to the list.
America is unique place. In any other country on the planet, if a foreign firm was able to gobble up a leading and very healthy automaker under false pretenses, it would be a national scandal. Yet, when DaimlerBenz took over Chrysler in 1997 and later proclaimed that it was not a merger of equals as promised to the American shareholders, but that Chrysler would be assigned a rung in the Daimler empire, it was news only in American auto industry circles.
Reporters Vlasic and Stertz have done a herculian task detailing how the deal was done and a great American company undone in the process. Their account focuses on the characters of the dealmakers, giving the book the feel of something between a Robert Altman film and a Shakespearean comedy. They interview scores of leading auto industry execs, as well as getting numerous insights from off-the-record sources. Always they maintain their objectivity: the authors do not condemn the two men at the heart of the deal, Chrysler CEO Bob Eaton and Daimler head Jurgen Schrempp: the facts do.
Bob Eaton, the career engineer thrust into a leadership role of America's No. 3 carmaker comes off as a good man and a dangerous leader. He is weak, uncommunicative, soft at the wrong times, hard at the wrong times and maddeningly opaque most of the time. It is not clear why he pushes so hard for the deal, which presents more unknowns than benefits. Clearly, a big premium on his stock options and a fat bonus were in it for him. The authors catch the cracks in Eaton's personality by detailing the numerous times he breaks down and weeps while addressing his troops. Why was he always weeping? Was it guilt? Love? Shame?
Schrempp, though the authors seem to fight against such an easy characterization, was the villian. He himself, to his own detriment in one of the great PR gaffes in corporate history, admitted that he approached Chrysler for a partnership, when in fact all he was interested in was adding another jewel to the Daimler crown. After the deal is done, in passsages that I found painful to read, the American executives get a taste of the real Schrempp, when they get treated with less respect than Daimler washroom attendants. Schrempp comes off as a rapacious German cowboy and reckless CEO, more interested in doing deals than creating value.
This book is a compelling account of how the personality foibles and shortcomings of our corporate chieftans impact our lives and the wealth of our society. While it wasn't enough to turn me into a rabid Naderite, it has opened my eyes to the need for greater accountability of CEOs in America.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent business analysis similar to the RJR takeover,
This review is from: Taken For A Ride (Paperback)An excellent in-depth analysis of the takeover of Chrysler by Mercedes. As in so many other business stories, it seems to boil down to egos and personalities. In this case, the Chrysler chairman is not an aggressive outgoing leader like Bob Lutz, his second in command. Eventually, this character flaw may have led to the takeover of Chrysler as he didn't feel they could go it alone.
But personalities are really the key on the Mercedes side where their outgoing chairman loved his job and all the perks that came with it. Including the opportunity to make his mark in German history. Clearly, he out negotiated Chrysler.
But there is a third party to this story and that's how the book opens with an analysis of Kirk Kerkorian's takeover attempt with the famous ego maniac, Lee Ioccoa.
With all these egos in one story, it's just a matter of time till a blow-up with billions of dollars lost by shareholders. Particularly, Kerkorian who has lawsuits pending.
Yes this is a long book which can get bogged down in detailed analysis of negotiations. But the business case study is exceptional and worth the read if you enjoy cars or exceptional business stories.
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Taken For A Ride by Bill Vlasic (Paperback - Jun 7 2001)
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