July 3, 2000
Staff Picks: Jack Covert Selects - Taken For a Ride
Taken For a Ride: How Daimler-Benz Drove off with Chrysler by Bill Vlasic, Bradley A. Stertz, William Morrow & Company, 372 pages, $26.00, Hardcover, July 2000, ISBN 0688173055 One of the fun things about reading business bios are when you have authors who know the inside people and tell inside stories. One of the biggest mergers in the world so far was the merger between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler. Who better to write about it than Bill Vlasic and Bradley Stertz, two Detroit News writers who covered the story as it unfolded? This is the merger that surprised everybody on the outside and the authors show us all the signs we missed: Kirk Kerkorian's attempt at taking the company private, and all the infighting and jealousy between the major and minor players. The authors draw outstanding portraits of all the players and describe the incredibly different cultures between the global Germans and the American company with very little international experience. The book is full of fun little factiods like Kirk having to cancel the Boeing jet he had ordered, because he had suddenly become a major stockholder in Airbus. I wouldn't put this book on the same level as Barbarians at the Gate, but it is close. For automotive fans, it doesn't get much better than this. For the people that would like to have an extremely comprehensive look at the history of the man who created Chrysler, I recommend Chrysler, The Life and Times of an American Genius by Vincent Curcio from Oxford University Press. It is a huge, exhaustive study extending over 640 pages and 50 pages of notes and sources.