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When Samuel Zemurray arrived in America in 1891, he was tall, gangly, and penniless. When he died in the grandest house in New Orleans sixty-nine years later, he was among the richest, most powerful men in the world. In between, he worked as a fruit peddler, a banana hauler, a dockside hustler, and a plantation owner. He battled and conquered the United Fruit Company, becoming a symbol of the best and worst of the United States: 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. In Latin America, when people shouted “Yankee, go home!” it was men like Zemurray they had in mind.
Rich Cohen’s brilliant historical profile The Fish That Ate the Whale unveils Zemurray as a hidden kingmaker and capitalist revolutionary, driven by an indomitable will to succeed. Known as El Amigo, the Gringo, or simply Z, the Banana Man 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, from feuding with Huey Long to working with the Dulles brothers, Zemurray emerges as an unforgettable figure, connected to the birth of modern American diplomacy, public relations, business, and war—a monumental life that reads like a parable of the American dream.
|Title||:||The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King|
|Number of Pages||:||288 pages|
June 17, 2012
Reading this book felt like listening to a very elderly professor tell a story. It started out about Samuel Zemurray, the banana king. It wandered off and told long tales about various people associated with him, the history of the banana business, the history of Guatemala and Honduras, Che Gueva...
February 09, 2013
An interesting read about Sam Zemurray, the Russian immigrant who came to the United States penniless and died one of its wealthiest and most influential men.
One of the greatest strengths of this book is that it's an honest portrayal as Zemurray as a complicated human being. It doesn't try to co...
April 06, 2017
Too Wild to Be Believed, but It's All True: The Outrageous Story of America's Banana King
Chances are, you’ve never heard of this guy. But if you’re not aware of some of the things he’s done, you’ll never be a big winner on “Jeopardy” or pass an AP test in modern world history. Just for example, h...
July 30, 2016
The story peaks early, and the remaining 3/4 of the book is a jumble of apologetic mishmash. Cohen would have served his reader better by not interjecting himself into the biography of someone else time and time again. Cohen has an agenda for this book, and he bent the story to fit it. I lost cou...
October 30, 2017
IMO there just was not enough of a story to support the length of this book. The rags to riches story and the entrepreneurship the allowed the Banana King to build a Central American empire was interesting but could have been 50 pages. Unless you have a strong interest in early 20th century Centr...
June 30, 2012
The story of the time period from 1890 to 1960 (or so)was interesting. I remember the hoop-la surrounding the events in the mid-50s when Allen Dullas was head of the CIA so learning the background for the previous 50 years in Central America was enlightening.
The book, however, was very poorly wri...
August 05, 2016
Amazing impact on an entire region.
But . . .
I really don't like a story that interrupts itself to (for example) tell you what route he took to work and then say, Not that we know what route he took every day. We have to guess. Just throws me off the stride.
May 22, 2017
"I'm sorry sir I can't understand your accent." (Chairmen of the board laughing with his board)
Sam Zemurray: "You are all FIRED. Understand that?"
Man. Riveting story and figure in this book about Sam Zemurray a Russian immigrant who would become one of the most powerful CEO's in the 20th century...
October 08, 2017
Despite being a History/Foreign Affairs major with a Latin America concentration, I had never learned about the 100+ year history of United Fruit, and the story of the American banana men, particularly the originally penniless, and relentless immigrant Sam Zemurray who started his own company to...
June 05, 2013
A really fascinating portrait of Samuel Zemurray, one of the original banana men. He was such a colorful character, and I never imagined a banana company could yield so much influence (at the beginnings of Cuyamel Fruit, Zemurray organized the overthrow of the Honduran government in order to gain...