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Download The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King, by Rich Cohen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (300 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rich Cohen Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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. Working his way up from a roadside fruit peddler to conquering the United Fruit Company, Zemurray became 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.

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. Rich Cohen’s brilliant historical profile The Fish That Ate the Whale unveils Zemurray, a hidden power broker driven by an indomitable will to succeed.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This is a rollicking but brilliantly researched book about one of the most fascinating characters of the twentieth century. I grew up in New Orleans enthralled by tales of Sam Zemurray, the banana peddler who built United Fruit. This book recounts, with delightful verve, his military and diplomatic maneuvers in Central America and his colorful life and business practices.”

    Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Jobs

  • “Lively and entertaining.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Eminently readable…The banana is lovely in its simplicity, but it turns out the man who ruled the banana kingdom for generations was quite the opposite—part conquistador, part pioneering businessman. Zemurray walked the line, and his interlaced legacies make for a fascinating and entertaining tale.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Cohen waxes almost Kiplingesque as he celebrates the man and his myrmidons.”

    New York Times

  • “Cohen’s narrative has considerable charm, whether pondering Zemurray’s Jewish identity or claiming him as a man ‘best understood as a last player in the drama of Manifest Destiny.’”

    The New Yorker

  • “Rich Cohen books constitute a genre unto themselves: pungent, breezy, vividly written psychodramas.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Zemurray exemplified both the best and worst of American capitalism. His saga provides plenty of food for thought next time you grab one off the bunch.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “There’s a lot to learn about the seedier side of the ‘smile of nature’ in this witty tale of the fruit peddler-turned-mogul.”

    Smithsonian Magazine

  • “A beautifully written homage to a man whose pioneering life mirrors so much of America’s beauty and beastliness. The life of Sam the Banana Man, in Cohen’s eloquent hands, is as nourishing and odd as the bendy yellow berry that made him great.”

    The Times (London)

  • “Absorbing, nimble and unapologetically affectionate…Mr. Cohen is a wonderfully visceral storyteller…it’s a magnificent, crazy story, engagingly told.”

    New York Observer

  • “Masterful and elegantly written…A cautionary tale for the ages.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “This is a great yarn, the events and personalities leaping off the page.”

    Seattle Times

  • “This history-embedded, anecdote-rich biography of Sam Zemurray, the bigger-than-life figure behind United Fruit Company at its height of power, is a balls-to-the-wall, panoramic, rocket ride through an acid bath, featuring unbelievable-but-true tales of power-grabbing, ambition, folly, passion, commerce, politics, artistry, and savagery: daydream and nightmare together…Cohen gives us this awesome story with a novelist’s canny eye for details and pacing—he injects learned disquisitions that are easy to digest whenever necessary—and a fair share of reflection and commentary and psychologizing without undue editorializing or finger-pointing.”

    Barnes & Noble

  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice for Adult Books in 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Leigh | 2/8/2014

    " A case study of American business and foreign policy; specifically the banana trade and the start of a long and tortured history of involvement in central America. You will never think about a banana the same way again! Tremendous detail, well-researched. NO INDEX. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Misteeyed | 2/8/2014

    " Good writing about little known American History. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Wayne | 2/3/2014

    " Good story and interesting reading but only a c+ author "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Stephen | 2/1/2014

    " I gave it 5 stars because it was definitely amazing. I also gave Crime and Punishment 5 stars. I've given lots of different books that many stars. They're all 5 stars for different reasons. Apples and oranges. "

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