The career of a Wall Street "killer" is retold, following Al Dunlap on a roller coaster ride through the bull market of the 1990s to his eventual downfall.
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Al Dunlap was so ruthless in downsizing corporations for short-term shareholder profit, that he earned nicknames like "Chainsaw Al" and "Rambo in Pinstripes." Wall Street loved Dunlap at Scott Paper, where he laid off thousands, but then finally hated him at Sunbeam, where he himself was finally fired. Chainsaw, by Business Week writer John A. Byrne, dramatically documents the rise and fall of Dunlap, the havoc he wreaked on companies and people's lives, and how he came to power in the first place.
"Chainsaw Al was a creation of the Street and its ceaseless lust for profit at any cost. He came of age when the market routinely rewarded layoffs with lofty stock prices. The more people he tossed out in the street, the higher stock values went," writes Byrne, who names "cut-throat investors" such as Michael Price and Ronald Perelman for helping Dunlap's rise. Superbly written and researched, the book vividly describes characters and scenes and reveals the fictions that Dunlap told about himself. How cold was Chainsaw Al? Byrne writes that Dunlap never even attended the funeral for his mother or father. Byrne also tells the story of the questionable accounting and business practices that ultimately brought down Sunbeam and Dunlap, and the investigations that led to a restatement of the company's finances. Dunlap, unhappy about Byrne's reporting, once said of the Business Week writer: "If he were on fire, I wouldn't piss on him." It's a quote that Byrne uses to kick off his last chapter. Chainsaw is a compelling read for those interested in the inner workings of Wall Street and business, or just a well-told story.-- Dan Ring, Amazon.com
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