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Barbarians at the Gate

The Fall of RJR Nabisco
Narrated by: John Helyar
Length: 3 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Barbarians at the Gate has been called one of the most influential business books of all time, the definitive account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history. Bryan Burrough's and John Helyer's account of the frenzy that overtook Wall Street in October and November of 1988 is the story of dealmakers and publicity flaks, of strategy meetings and society dinners, of boardrooms and balls. It gives us not only a detailed look at financial operations at the highest levels but a richly textured social history of wealth in the twilight of the Reagan era.
©2003 Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"A superlative book...steadily builds suspense until the very end." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

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Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • Macquarie Hills, Australia
  • 31-07-2016

a lightning fast rollicking ride

a lightning fast rollicking ride through the late 80s junk bond fuelled corporate takeover hi jinks

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cheimon
  • 17-11-2007

Great book, not so great audiobook

The book has lost a lot in transcription, the original is far too heavily abridged. It is too linear, and has lost a lot of its journalistic depth. The book itself, however, is an absolute must.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jake
  • Jake
  • 24-01-2013

Abridged and Poorly Read

What disappointed you about Barbarians at the Gate?

It's only 3 hours long and the narration (done by the authors) is poor at best.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Al
  • Al
  • 14-07-2013

Abridged version does not build enough story

This is stated as one of the all time greats, but after reading it seems the story dosnot come out in an abridged version. Not worth the credits to use on this one.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Wally
  • 01-02-2018

3 hour audiobook for a 600 page book?

well told, but only recommend listening if you have read or plan to read the actual book

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tze Ming
  • 13-09-2007

simplified

I am surprise to find out that the audiobook was a cut-down version from the original book. No wonder it is only 3 hour long. I am abit disappointed..

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lynn
  • Lynn
  • 14-10-2007

A little too brief

I have read the full book at least three times. This was a good abridgment but not perfect. The personalities never really got developed completely and the stories that really demonstrated Ross Johnson's extravagance (the dog at the golf tournament) didn't make the cut. If you have read the book you will enjoy this version.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for L
  • L
  • 29-05-2019

Just get the actual book

The authors do a poor job reading the abridged book. The book itself is an interesting read but the authors do an extremely terrible job of reading. The high pitched voice author reads the book at a speed that is so fast I assumed I had the reading speed on 1.5x. It’s as if he was like let’s get this over with as soon as possible and raced against himself. The two authors passing off paragraphs and pages was another bad idea because they had no transitions or feel for actually reading a book. Should have hired a voice actor and had that person read the full unabridged book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Miraisy Rodriguez
  • 08-03-2019

Great Story of "Business" Guys gone wild

Loved the question they imagine the founders of the business would have asked... What does all this wheeling and dealing have to do with the business?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 25-03-2018

Barbarians

interesting story. makes me wsnt to see the movie. The LBO process became confusing in how it was executed, but it sounds like it WAS confusing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben Andrews
  • 23-09-2017

Wall Street Machinations, Corporate Greed and Big

I missed this one when it first came out. Great view into the machinations of Wall Street investment banking firms, corporate executive greed and hubris and over-sized egos.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chattian fauna
  • 30-10-2016

Lost in translation

I was disappointed to find that the full version was not available on audible so was forced to go with this abridged version on the off chance. Bearing in mind the original was critically acclaimed as being an engrossing thriller as well as a thought-provoking business book. The resulting narrative here is pallid and uninspiring. All excitement and compelling material has been boiled out leaving the listener with one of the most dull and tedious descriptions of a business deal ever written.

The narration is at least authentic, but even their authoritative tones cannot resuscitate this dead dog of an audiobook.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • LondonBubble
  • 20-10-2017

A great book really poorly narrated

The narration is very poor and a lot of the nice details are left out, I wouldn’t bother if I were you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Martin
  • Martin
  • 01-04-2016

Fascinating subject - poorly served.

What did you like best about Barbarians at the Gate? What did you like least?

Anyone interested in the machinations of corporate excess, skulduggery and the financial world should benefit from this. A classic illustration of how the business world has changed from emphasising producing goods of quality and looking after their employees and the communities in which they operate into rapacious profit machines which care only about enriching directors and large shareholders.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The authors are far from being natural or accomplished narrators. Dull and monotonous - although care would need to be taken to ensure that another narrator did not attempt to be too dramatic!

Do you think Barbarians at the Gate needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. The story has been told. No doubt there are many similar cautionary tales - but it was the sheer size of the deal and the place Nabisco held in American consumer culture which made this tale worth telling.

Any additional comments?

Buy the book instead!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-08-2019

Gripping book, not suited for audiobook format

Audio book format is not well suited for a story that involves ca. 30 characters briefly introduced at different points throughout the book

Narrating voice is very fast and not easily understandable by an international audience

Altogether, great book which I'd suggest to read on paper/kindle

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sam
  • 13-05-2019

Scintillating read

Great example showings the danger of higher and higher biding. Proves the points that an LBO might not be worth it!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bob the Bard
  • Bob the Bard
  • 20-03-2019

Definitely abridged

This is one of the most interesting stories to come out of Wall Street. it is also a great work of investigative journalism. This abridgment, though, truncates the story to such a degree that it's just a skeleton. You get the overall story, but none of the detail that makes this such a rich story.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-03-2019

Worst narration I've ever heard.

Narrator seems to be 12 year old, swallowing ends of words or entire words and emitting sounds instead like he sipping coffee at the same time. Great story but continuous aggravation from the lack of satisfaction all 3 hrs of it. Could have been a lot better. Next time pay for a professsional, don't get your nephew to do it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gabriel Adekola
  • 14-02-2019

Thrilling story

I loved the story it was truly thrilling.
I did not like the alternating narrations.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-12-2018

Not the actual book

Fantastic book which I've read a few time.
This is a short audio summary......not the actual book.
Don't buy the Audible version.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr
  • 22-03-2018

Entertaining account of a crazy time.

I really enjoyed the film, and I enjoyed the book as well. A vivid and colorful account of the men and the maneuverings that symbolized the revolution in the culture of American business of the 1980s, whose strengths and weaknesses still resonate for better and for worse today.

At times the book, with it's larger than life characters driven by personal rivalries as much as by business logic at the height of the LBO boom: reads more like a novel than history. And you has to remind yourself that this is actually true.

Author is fine.