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Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Iconby Mitchell Pacelle
Synopses & Reviews
It is the most famous skyscraper in the world-a towering edifice whose silhouette defines New York's skyline. Each year, millions of visitors from all over the world flock to its upper reaches to take in its dramatic views. Yet few are aware of the triumphs and tragedies that have played out in its storied corridors. Ever since it was erected during the Great Depression, the Empire State Building has been coveted by ambitious, self-made men who have gone to great lengths to call it their own. It has carried some of them to prominence, others to the precipice of financial ruin. For a few, the building has exacted an even higher toll-costing them friends, family, and even their freedom.
EMPIRE is a gripping account of a frenzied decade-long contest for control of America's premier skyscraper. MITCHELL PACELLE, an award-winning writer for The Wall Street Journal, takes us behind the scenes in a bizarre drama of greed, rivalry, duplicity, and betrayal. Taking advantage of extensive access to key players, he traces the saga from the boardroom where an intricate ownership web was spun to the time-warped world of a Japanese tycoon; from castles in Britain to jail cells in New York and France.
Pacelle brings vividly to life a colorful and intriguing cast of characters at the center of the contest, including:
* Hideki Yokoi, a reviled Japanese billionaire who gathered storybook buildings as if they were trophies-and whose obsession with owning the Empire State Building would tear his family asunder
* Kiiko Nakahara, Yokoi's daughter, and her husband, Jean-Paul Renoir, whose own quest for the building would lead them on a ruinous legal odyssey on two continents
* Harry and Leona Helmsley, the building's link to a fading era of Manhattan real estate kingpins, whose iron grip on the building would come under spirited attack from many quarters
* Donald Trump, who would maneuver to gain a slim stake in the skyscraper, then play it for all it was worth
Brilliantly written, with twists and turns that surprise like fiction, EMPIRE offers a rare glimpse into the era of old-world real estate tycoons, and explores the culture clash that erupted when the new guard rose to challenge them. What unfolds is one of the most captivating business tales of our time.
The world's most famous skyscraper, the Empire State Building is an icon as immediately recognizable as the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids, or the Taj Mahal; and for some of the world's most powerful men, it is the ultimate prize. From the day it was erected, it has been the object of obsession for the heads of empires, conjuring their most hidden vices. In a riveting chronicle of betrayal, revenge, family rivalry, and raw greed, award-winning journalist Mitchell Pacelle tells the compelling tale of the history of the Empire State Building and the battle for ownership which reveals the inner workings of a world of powerful, self-made men. Pacelle brings to life the colorful cast of characters involved-a dramatis personae including the most powerful players in the international real estate markets both old and new, including John Raskob and Pierre du Pont alongside Donald Trump, the Helmsleys, Peter Malkin, and the eccentric Japanese billionaire Hideki Yokoi. Before the tale is over, Yokoi will accuse his beloved illegitimate daughter of stealing the building from him, several participants will land in jail, one will die suddenly, and a tense legal standoff will leave the landmark in limbo. One of the most fascinating characters to emerge from this richly layered story is the building itself, with its legendary romances and suicides, its odd tenants, and the countless human triumphs and tragedies that have been played out within its towering walls.
In this fast-paced book, named one of the "Top Ten of 2001" by BusinessWeek, Mitchell Pacelle tells the gripping story of the ten-year struggle for control of America's most famous skyscraper-a tale of greed and duplicity that consumed, and nearly destroyed, some of the real estate world's most controversial tycoons.
"Makes for delicious reading...it is a grand human comedy, and Mitchell Pacelle has a fine time with it."
-The Washington Post
"Who'd have thought that real estate dealings could read like a gossipy novel of intrigue?"
"Features legal wrangling, political posturing, family feuds, financial high jinks, and lost fortunes...a finely wrought narrative that embodies the style-and the hysteria-of New York real estate."
"Bluster, temperamental outbursts, one-line putdowns and endless deviousness, all meticulously recorded by Mr. Pacelle."
"Great business writing and even greater gossip ...reads like a cross between film noir and a Harold Robbins novel."
About the Author
MITCHELL PACELLE is an award-winning journalist who has covered business for The Wall Street Journal over the past eleven years. He won the New York Press Club's 1999 Business Reporting Award, was a finalist for UCLA's Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and was part of the team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the collapse of the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: SKY'S THE LIMIT.
1. The Deal and the Deception.
2. Reaching for the Sky.
3. Trophy Hunting.
4. Yokoi's Secret.
5. Yokoi Meets His Match.
6. Old Guard, New World.
7. East Meets West.
PART TWO: TOWER OF DISCORD.
8. Who Owns the Empire State Building?
9. Trumps' Broadside.
10. The French Front.
11. Fall of the House of Harry.
12. Sibling Rivalry.
13. Behind Bars.
14. A Meeting with Daddy.
15. Yokoi's Last Stand.
17. Donald's Endgame.
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