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The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and…

The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana… (2012)

by Rich Cohen

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As I come from a country greatly influenced by banana plantations and often times referred to as a Banana Republic, I now see the two sides of the story the business side in the sense of enrichment but at what cost to a underdeveloped nation. Interesting how Zemurray´s good intentions did turn out well, such as the Panamerican School in Zamorano and the fact that his daughter and grandsons focused on studying and writing about Mesoamerica. ( )
  mtome | Jun 19, 2013 |
Great book! Samuel Zemurray is bigger than life, he was a quiet Jewish John Wayne from the Russian steppes who orchestrated coups, toppling nations and corporations. He was the last of a generation that "Never complain, Never explain." I'll never forget the scene of Zemurray taking over United Fruit, slapping down on the boardroom table his proxy votes giving him control of the company and telling the Boston old line gentry what to do with their bananas. He was the fish that swallowed the whale. His life would make an epic movie on the scale of Citizen Kane or Howard Hughes, but even more adventuresome since it involved armed revolutions and private jungle fiefdoms. It's remarkable how little known Zemurray is, yet he had an outsize impact on the history of Central America, New Orleans and Israel. Cohen is a great writer a real pleasure to read. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Jul 19, 2012 |
Who knew there was so much to learn about bananas, The United Fruit Company, Central America and a flawed but fascinating man named Sam Zemurray. I loved this book. Ineresting words tzedakah, shtanker, and goyim. June 2012 ( )
  eembooks | Jul 1, 2012 |
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added by bachrach44 | editThe Forward, Rich Cohen (May 23, 2012)
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Power is based on perception. If you think you got it, you got it, even if you don't got it.
Herb Cohen, You Can Negotiate Anything
In my beginning is my end.
T. S. Eliot, "East Coker"
There's always a guy.
Jerry Weintraub, in conversation
To my sister, Sharon,
for thirty-five years of New Orleans
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Samuel Zemurray, who led the United Fruit Company for roughly twenty-five years, from the early 1930s to the mid-’50s, was an emblematic figure of the American Century—those decades that saw the United States grow from a regional power into an empire.
“You gentlemen have been fucking up this business long enough. I’m going to straighten it out.”
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374299277, Hardcover)

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.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:51 -0400)

A biography of the little-known antihero, Samuel Zemurray (1877-1961), the disgraced mogul of the much hated United Fruit Company who 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.… (more)

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