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The Fish That Ate the Whale

The Life and Times of America's Banana King

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

A legendary tale, both true and astonishing, from the author of Israel is Real and Sweet and Low


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 23, 2012 – Cohen provides a boatload of angles for his biography of little-known antihero, Samuel Zemurray (1877-1961), presenting his story as a parable of American capitalism, an example of the American dream in decline, the story of 20th-century America, a quintessentially Jewish tale, and a subterranean saga of kickbacks, overthrows, and secret deals: the world as it really works. Fortunately, Cohen (Sweet and Low) backs up his hyperbole. Once a poor immigrant buying ripe bananas off a New Orleans pier, Zemurray became the disgraced mogul of the much hated United Fruit Company. Along the way, he aided the creation of Israel; funded many of Tulane University s buildings; and had a hand in the rise of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Cohen claims Zemurray was to New Orleans what Rockefeller was to New York, but the better comparison may be to Robert Moses, who bulldozed both land and people to build many of New York s roads, parks, and bridges. The reader gets to decide not only whether the ends were worth the means, but whether the means were worth the ends.

Customer Reviews

Great Book

The story that Mr. Cohen tells of Sam The Banana Man is of a complicated and consequential life. It is fascinating how much influence Sam Zemurray had on the geopolitics of the 20th century. The way that Mr.Cohen is able to tie the events of Sam's life to the broader context of the last century is incredibly compelling. I strongly recommend this book.

Good yarn!

Great story on a fascinating character! Reads more like a novel at times and not always sure how much is true, but a entertaining and informative nonetheless.

Interesting read

Good one

The Fish That Ate the Whale
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Americas
  • Published: Jun 05, 2012
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings