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The Fish That Ate the Whale

The Life and Times of America's Banana King
Written by: Rich Cohen
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Samuel Zemurray arrived in America in 1891, he was tall, gangly, and penniless. When he died in the grandest house in New Orleans 69 years later, he was among the richest, most powerful men in the world. In between, he worked as a fruit peddler, banana hauler, dockside hustler, and plantation owner. He battled and conquered the United Fruit Company, becoming a symbol of the best and worst of the United States: proof 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. 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.

©2012 Rich Cohen (P)2012 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What the critics say

"This is popular history and biography at its best, making for an easy verdict: This book will appeal strongly to lay readers and scholars alike. Highly recommended to all." ( Library Journal)
"...it is nearly impossible to put the book down, and that's something you don't say about a lot of biographies - and especially biographies of businessmen. For anyone who enjoys a good life story, this one is an absolute must-read." ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mikemccann3
  • 2017-08-11

Incredible story about the banana man

The story of Sam Zemurray was fascinating. I had no idea who he was until I heard about this book when it was recommended to me. Amazing tale of how he got started, his hustle, his demise, and the entire build up of the banana industry.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Love To Learn
  • 2017-07-12

Epic

Amazing story and author. Combines a Hollywood story with inspiring business lessons and interesting history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison Willette
  • 2017-07-10

a whale of a story

one of the best agricultural history books I have listened to. I'm glad that the author didn't try to make Zamarie out to be a hero. he did a great job of being able to show both sides of the coin. the narrator was clear and took good pauses. I was surprised buy how interesting the narrator was able to make this book. I probably could have sat all the way through it in one sitting if I'd had the time. It was that good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean
  • 2016-06-13

Fun business and history.

Fun mix of business and history. The author treats the history with truth and humor. He presents all the information well and explains any biases he may have. Who knew a banana company could have such a torrid background?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin & Lindsay
  • 2016-06-09

Great lessons in this book

What a great book with so many hidden lessons I recommend it for sure thanks

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JayVL
  • 2018-01-14

author sounds like a pretentious asshole

Great story of an incredible life. lots of great history included. the author added in too many personal notes though. Dude, shut up about yourself and tell the story

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan Gheller
  • 2019-10-08

An amazing life story superbly written

An amazing life story superbly written. A biography that is also a commentary on America, Capitalism and Judaism

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-06-24

A+

Great combination of interesting characters, entertaining stories, and describing old school New Orleans plus Central America. Eager to find a similar book

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  • Amanda Robbins
  • 2019-05-31

Mountain full of history!!

Live the life as the Fish that ate the Whale. A great understanding of the life in a world that many will never know.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-05-18

Amazing and Super Interesting Book

This book is definitely worth listening to. I'm really glad I found it. Good book.