The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life & Times of America’s Banana King
Named a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Times-Picayune
The fascinating untold story of Samuel Zemurray, the self-made banana mogul who went from penniless roadside banana peddler to kingmaker and capitalist revolutionary
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 on this planet. Working his way up from a roadside fruit peddler to conquering the United Fruit Company, Zemurray became a symbol of the very best and worst of the US: proof that America is the land of opportunity, but additionally a classic example of the corporate pirate who treats other nations as the backdrop for his adventures.
Zemurray lived one of the great untold tales of the last hundred years. Beginning with nothing but a cart of freckled bananas, he constructed a sprawling empire of banana cowboys, mercenary troopers, Honduran peasants, CIA agents, and American statesmen. From hustling on the docks of New Orleans to overthrowing Central American governments and precipitating the bloody 36-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 as a hidden power broker, driven by an indomitable will to succeed.