Barbarians at the Gate

The Fall of RJR Nabisco

Bryan Burrough and John Helyar


The fight to control RJR Nabisco during October and November of 1988 was more than just the largest takeover in Wall Street history. Marked by brazen displays of ego not seen in American business for decades, it became the high point of a new gilded age, and its repercussions are still being felt. The ultimate story of greed and glory, Barbarians at the Gate is the gripping account of these two frenzied months, of deal makers and publicity flaks, of an old-line industrial powerhouse that became the victim of the ruthless and rapacious style of finance in the 1980s. Written with the bravado of a novel and researched with the diligence of a sweeping cultural history, here is the unforgettable story of the takeover in all its brutality.


Bryan Burrough

Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and the author of five books.

John Helyar

John Helyar is a columnist for Bloomberg News. He previously wrote for the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and ESPN, and is the author of Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball.



“A superlative book...steadily builds suspense until the very end.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Impressive qualities… a cinematic yet extraordinarily careful book.” —Daily News

“It’s hard to imagine a better story...and it’s hard to imagine a better account” —Chicago Tribune

“The fascinating inside story of the largest corporate takeover in American history… It reads like a novel.” —Today Show

“The most piercing and compelling narrative of a deal to date.” —Boston Globe