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Publisher's Summary

With a cast of characters that wouldnt be out of place in a Victorian novel, Chocolate Wars tells the story of the great chocolatier dynasties, through the prism of the Cadburys. Chocolate was consumed unrefined and unprocessed as a rather bitter, fatty drink for the wealthy elite until the late 19th century, when the Swiss discovered a way to blend it with milk and unleashed a product that would conquer every market in the world.

Thereafter, one of the great global business rivalries unfolded as each chocolate maker attempted to dominate its domestic market and innovate new recipes for chocolate that would set it apart from its rivals. The contest was full of dramatic contradictions: The Cadburys were austere Quakers who found themselves making millions from an indulgent product; Kitty Hershey could hardly have been more flamboyant yet her husband was moved by the Cadburys tradition of philanthropy. Each was a product of their unique time and place yet they shared one thing: they want to make the best chocolate in the world.

©2010 Deborah Cadbury (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This tale of capitalist rivalry mixed with Quaker values makes for a very sweet journey." (Booklist)

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 11-05-14

The World of Chocolate

I chose to read this book when I noted the author was from the famous British Cadbury Chocolate family. I remember all the fuss in the news in 2009 when the American Kraft foods mounted a hostile takeover of the British Cadbury Chocolate Company. The British government was powerless to stop the international business deal. The British have no laws protecting their own companies for hostile takeovers. Within weeks a company that had taken 186 years to build and which had flourished on the Quaker principles of altruism had been abandoned to the global corporate goals of short term profits.

In the early 19th century 4000 Quakers families were running banks and companies –driven into the business world by the rules forbidding them from serving in Parliament, the armed forces and professions such as law or into higher education. Wedgwood’s china ware, Clark’s Shoes, Bryant & May’s matches, Huntley and Palmers biscuit’s all helped to shape the courses of the industrial revolution. Quaker Banks flourish as business and people could trust them to be honest and fair. The Quaker’s governed by their own strict standards such as the Quaker belief that wealth creation should fund social projects, that reckless debt was shameful and the quality of the product was paramount. I was particularly interested in the discussion of how the care of the poor shifted from the religious group, such as the Quakers and other in the 19th century, to the government after World War One (20th century).

In 1861 Birmingham, England Richard and George Cadbury inherited their fathers chocolate drink business. It was unprofitable. The brothers invested in new equipment from their Dutch competitors Van Houten and set about to design new products. The rest is history.
Deborah Cadbury tells of the intense competition between chocolate produces in Switzerland, mainly Nestle and the American Milton Hershey Company. In the 1880’s Cadbury spread to Australian and the West Indies, the Middle East and South East Asia. The Cadbury’s followed their Quaker rules with affordable housing for their employees, landscaped parks and philanthropic projects. Hershey (from a Mennonite family) in Pennsylvania and Roundtree in York followed suit. In 1919 a titanic struggle between British and Swiss producers began. In 1910 Cadbury was Britain’s largest manufacture of cocoa and chocolate.

The author tells of the accusation by a newspaper that Cadbury’s profited from the slave trade in Africa. This was adherent to their Quaker beliefs and they had fought against slavery. The Cadbury’s sued for libel and they won the case.

Deborah Cadbury is a perfectly diligent chronicler of the story of chocolate in the 19th century. She spends more time on the history than on the product creations. She does discuss the Cadbury takeover of JS Fry and Co and Schweppes. The author gives a blow by blow account of Kraft’s hostile takeover of Cadbury. The author does stress the lost to the business world of a large family business operating under the Quaker values.

Cadbury’s fate is a sad one but all too common in our current era of global conglomerates. The author was the narrator of the story. If you are interested in social and business history or in chocolate this is a great book to read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gil
  • Plymouth, PA, United States
  • 03-03-13

History of chocolate and so much more

Would you listen to Chocolate Wars again? Why?

I have listened to this book more then any other book in my life. I am a chocolate lover and history buff and this book has so much to it and all told from and by a Cadbury. Deborah Cadbury did such an amazing job on this book. No only will it give you the history of chocolate from the start of cadbury it brings you right up to date to when cadury was sold to Kraft. So much history and such a well thought out book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

all of them as this is a history of the chocolate world and the industry so many of us love.

What does Deborah Cadbury bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Yes, because unlike so many other audible books this one was written and is being told you by a Cadbury. Deborah also has an amazing voice and tells you not only her families history but her countries history from the start of the cocoa bean in the UK to the land of chocolate in Swiss and across the Pond to chocolate town and the from Chicago to NJ and the Mars family to the company that would take her families business away Kraft.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Chocolate wars history of an Industry

Any additional comments?

Even for some strange reason your not a chocolate lover but want to know some if the vast history of the UK or the Mars family or Milton Hershey or even Industry as a whole you will love this book. Plus Deborah has an amazing British Voice with such passion on this subject you will love this book. This is my go to book when I am in between things to listen to. Just love it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J
  • 07-03-11

I love chocolate, I like business, but...

This particular book brought together two things that I independently am interested in--chocolate and business. Unfortunately, this is a case of two great tastes that don't go that well together. The book is slow, and while there are interesting factoids, I feel like the wikipedia information on the subject is probably at least as well written and as interesting. I would not buy it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathryn
  • Pearblossom, CA, United States
  • 04-11-11

Historically Valuable

In intriguing tale of trial and error, and enterprenurial competition. Unfortunately it is read by the author. She is not a gifted reader. Very choppy and lacking plot, this book has potential as an historical reference. Otherwise, it is not engaging, nor compelling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 01-24-11

A Sweet Read

Cadbury provides listeners here a view of the history of and competition between Cadbury, Mars, Hershey, and Nestlé - hence the "Chocolate Wars." Covering about 150 years of history, Cadburry engages the listener in stories, analysis, and presentation of historical context surrounding the chocolate confection industry. I approached this book to learn about the industry and I certainly found it a sweet read. Most interesting to me were sections on the work of both Cadbury and Hershey in preparing and providing for their employees. Sections dealing with Cadbury and the slave trade were revealing as were sections detailing how the Quaker Religion influenced Cadbury and the family as they adapted to the industrial age. This is an interesting book worthy of every listener's time. The reading of Deborah Cadbury is excellent.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kim
  • Croydon, Australia
  • 11-25-10

Highly recommended!

I thought this book was very well written. The story is absorbing from start to finish. It is not so much about chocolate as it was about the Quaker business ways. I think after reading this most people would wish they worked for Cadbury's in their "Utopia" called "Bourneville". I grew up near Hershey, PA and Milton S. Hershey built the town on the Cadbury model.
After reading this I must say how sad the sale to Kraft actually is.
I highly recommend this read, chocaholic or not.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good history book.

Very interesting book. Highly recommended. A bit slow in the beginning, but gets better. From today's perspective, it is funny to learn about people actually called Cadbury, Hershey, Mars and Nestle.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wrong Title

I love history and I love food, so I thought this would be a great book about the history & production of chocolate. I also hoped to gain insight of the history of the great chocolate companies, their products and their fight for the world market.

Unfortunately, this booked constantly came back to the Cadbury family time and time and time again. It was a book about the Cadbury family that mentioned the other great chocolate companies so very little.

It was a slow read, and I did not learn all that much.
Sorry, but I was disappointed.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Awful whiney book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Rather than being an uplifting history of Cadbury as I hoped this book would be the author starts by giving an anti-American big business rant.

What was most disappointing about Deborah Cadbury’s story?

I am sure she is disappointed by the loss of the company but she has allowed this tone to pervade the book.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Awful whiney tone distracts from the story. Someone should have told her not to narate her own book, she does not have the voice for it.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger I had bought the book in the first place.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great book..... well worth it! Really well done

This is a fabulous book and well worth the listen to.... did not want it to end. Deborah Cadbury does a great job on the history of her family from the first days of experimenting with cocoa and then chocolate production and brings it right through to the modern day until they were bouht out by Nestle (the bad guys.!) This book has elements of history, science, technology, business, marketing, and religious history (Quaker history) all very well woven together. It really shows how the ethics in business nowadays has gone downhill and bows only to the bottom line in profits and does not take into account workers at all. Deborah Cadbury does a grea job in narration, I don't always like a woman narrating but the softness of her voice and the English accent is not too pronounced (excuse the pun). This is the best book I have read (you know what I mean) in a long time and I would highly recommend it to any ex-pat like myself as we have grown up with the brands she discusses with their history and development. There is even significant discussion of the development of the American chocolate market of Hershey's and Mars so very, very pertinent. Super Work!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful