KING ICAHN by Mark Stevens


The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist
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 As this savvy, tellingly detailed rundown on the top gun in the megabuck takeover battles of the 1980's makes clear, even Robert Ringer (Winning Through Intimidation, etc.) could have learned a thing or two from Carl Icahn. Drawing on apparently unrestricted access to the hitherto publicity-shy raider, as well as to his associates, adversaries, and family, Stevens (The Big Six, etc.) offers a sympathetic if unsparing portrait that's longer on professional than personal perspectives. The author gives short shrift to the Princeton- educated Icahn's working-class background, focusing instead on his epic face-offs against the likes of Hammermill Paper, Phillips Petroleum, Texaco, and USX. Stevens's behind-the-scenes accounts of his subject's ability to best fat cats in deal after deal is well worth the price of admission--and the author also takes the measure of a complex man. While giving Icahn full marks for brains and brass, he leaves little doubt that he was a merciless antagonist who gave no quarter. Nor did the arguable propriety of accepting so-called ``greenmail'' (invariably paid at the expense of fellow owners) appear to trouble this outspoken advocate of accountability, good governance, and shareholder rights. Icahn's comeuppance (such as it was) came in the wake of a fight to gain control of TWA. While the erstwhile nemesis of big business escaped with his skin, he found the experience of running a debt-burdened airline to be, if not humbling, at least chastening. Icahn's career as one of Wall Street's most aggressive investors has since taken a new turn, purportedly one in which he attempts to salvage value from failed enterprises. But that is another story--and one that many readers will hope that Stevens finds time to tell.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93613-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993


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