Ben color 3About the Author

Ben Johnson is a seasoned journalist and veteran of the commercial real estate industry. His experience includes more than 25 years as a writer and editor, and as an insider he has worked for some of the best-known firms in the business.

From Ben:

Love him or hate him (and oh-so-many do), Sam Zell knows how to create a buzz. His ill-timed purchase of one of the world’s largest media companies put him squarely in the public spotlight. He is a polarizing figure and has always deserved a book. Many thanks to Portfolio (Penguin Group USA) for publishing my first book and the first biography on the legendary deal maker.

About the Book

Sam Zell, one of history’s greatest contrarian investors, started with nothing and worked his way up to a $5 billion real estate fortune. He also made headlines for his tumultuous takeover of Tribune Company (owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times)—which, in less than a year under his ownership, went bankrupt.

Real estate expert Ben Johnson, who knows Zell and members of his circle, draws back the curtain on this colorful mogul, who is fond of blunt declarations such as “Money talks, bullsh-t walks.” The author shows Zell’s humble origins as the son of Polish immigrants in Chicago, his early days as a college town landlord, and his astonishing run of dealmaking in unglamorous industries such as cargo containers, fertilizer, and plumbing.

Why did Zell pursue Tribune just when the bottom was falling out of the media business? Johnson tells the real story of Zell’s adventure with Tribune, including untold details of his conflicts with his employees, investors, and pundits who saw Zell as a sign of the
media apocalypse.