Book Reviews

The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King

Rich Cohen - 2012

This is a fabulous business story of Samuel Zemurray, the self-made banana mogul who went from roadside peddler to kingmaker and capitalist revolutionary.  He worked his way up from a roadside fruit peddler to conquering the United Fruit Company. Zemurray is proof that America is the land of opportunity, but also a classic example of the corporate pirate who treats foreign nations as the backdrop for his adventures.

Zemurray lived one of the great untold stories of the last hundred years. Starting with nothing but a cart of freckled bananas, he built a sprawling empire of banana cowboys, mercenary soldiers, Honduran peasants, CIA agents, and American statesmen. From hustling on the docks of New Orleans to overthrowing Central American governments and precipitating the bloody thirty-six-year Guatemalan civil war, the Banana Man lived a monumental and sometimes dastardly life.

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