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A Business Book That Reads Like A Real Life “Succession”

A compelling read and powerful tale that makes its business story as exciting and dramatic as a well-written novel

Art from the New York Times rave review of two of its finest journalists

Whether your interest is the inner workings of Hollywood, the corruption that can occur inside a public company, the incredible impact of the Me-Too movement or a chronicle of the abuse of power by the super-rich in American society, “Unscripted: The Epic battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy” is a compelling read and powerful tale of a real life “Succession” saga that often makes its business story as exciting and dramatic as a well-written novel.

Rachel Abrams

James B. Stewart

Authors James B. Stewart (“Disney War”) and his New York Times colleague Rachel Abrams bring together a huge amount of research, much of it never before seen or heard, to weave the incredible story of corporate maverick Sumner Redstone, his beleaguered but brilliant daughter Shari, former Viacom CEO Phillip Domain and one time broadcast powerhouse Leslie Moonves, among many others, that opens a window on the machinations and big money power games at the heart of some of the world’s best known movie and TV empires.

An aging Sumner Redstone with his two girlfriends who took off with over $150 million between them

Redstone’s story of his rise from operator of a few theaters in Boston to an entertainment industry titan has been told before and this book does not go into every detail. What it does capture are his final years as he fought to hold on to power even as his body and mind deteriorated with age. It also shines a light on his crazed sexual desires and how they led him to spend millions on a few “girlfriends’ happy to take advantage of his dotage and ultimate decline.

Leslie Moonves and Shari Redstone

The last part of the book is the battle between Shari Redstone and Leslie Moonves over CBS, Viacom and other entertainment assets worth billions, even as the industry was undergoing a huge change impacting business, Wall Street and consumer’s viewing habits.

Moonves, whose accomplishments at CBS were unprecedented in his era, is brought down by his oversized ego, his greed and ultimately by his abuse of women over whom he had power due to his position. While he was not as nasty as Harvey Weinstein, Moonves minor league decades of harassment an abuse of women was what finally caused his fall from grace.

All of these characters are brought to life, along with many others, with insight, color, detail and a harsh dose of reality, that makes this a must read for anyone in media, finance or interested in the changing role of women in business. I listened to it and thought the story was well narrated and flowed in a powerful and compelling fashion that is entertaining, informative, and smartly delivered. I recommend it.

Rachel Abrams was a media reporter for The New York Times and is now a senior producer and reporter for the television series The New York Times Presents. In 2018, she was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for reporting that exposed sexual harassment and misconduct.

James B. Stewart is the author of Deep State, Tangled Webs, Heart of a Soldier, Blind Eye, Blood Sport, and the blockbuster Den of Thieves. He is currently a columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia Journalism School. In 1988, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading.


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