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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

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about The Fish That Ate the Whale

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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An amazing life story superbly written

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

4 people found this helpful

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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?

4 people found this helpful

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Great lessons in this book

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

4 people found this helpful

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Incredible story and excellent writing

Mr Cohen tells the amazing story of “The Banana Man”, but he also deftly weaves important American and world history into the story. Outstanding writing!

3 people found this helpful

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An All-Time Favorite

I read this book on my own years ago and absolutely loved it. The audio version does not disappoint. I've listened several times. Excellent author, excellent narrator, excellent story.

2 people found this helpful

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The Author Must Have Been There

Seriously this book is so packed full of details, no stone left unturned. You’re presented the full story with all its blemishes and coffee stains and I swear the author must have been there because he knows every angle of every thing that happened. I can only imagine how much work went into writing and researching this and it is a fantastic read.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredible - Sam Zemurray’s life is an EPIC

I originally read this from the recommendation of Jason Calanis on a whim. Oh my god, it’s the story of a man that followed an incredible journey. No college, no Old Boys network, none of the other bullshit people use as excuses for why they are can’t accomplish anything in their lives. He lived a David Goggins messed up world and plotted his way into an empire. This is the tale of the true soul of America, in all it’s ugliness and tenacity.

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Underrated

This book is incredibly well written and performed fantastically. With life lessons like those included, this should be taught in schools!