Chronicling what was the largest merger in history in about 300 pages is no mean feat. A few of the main players in the debacle that was the making of AOL Time Warner deserve their own biographies. The histories of each of the companies themselves could fill tomes, and many of the business deals are so byzantine as to merit separate treatments.
In Stealing Time, Washington Post business reporter Alec Klein offers a full but uncluttered history of the deal in this briskly paced march through the rise of America Online, its merger with the respected media entity, and the ensuing culture clash and downfall of the company.
The book's highlight is Klein's depiction of AOL's business affairs department as an exercise in ambition and corruption that would please a David Mamet fan. His in-depth look at the egoist culture and shark-like sales technique of the department charged with brokering multimillion-dollar ad deals should go far in demolishing the remnants of any perception of the dot-com business clime as warm and fuzzy.
Title Stealing Time
Author Alec Klein
Publisher Simon& Schuster, 337 pages
Reviewed by Matthew Creamer