The Fish That Ate the Whale

The Life and Times of America's Banana King

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A legendary tale, both true and astonishing, from the author of Israel is Real and Sweet and Low

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. In between, he worked as a fruit peddler, a banana hauler, a dockside hustler, and a plantation owner. He battled and conquered the United Fruit Company, becoming a symbol of the best and worst of the United States: proof that America...

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Fish That Ate the Whale from the world's leading experts.

Ryan Holiday AuthorThe book sucked me in completely. The subject, Samuel Zemurray, is fascinating and compelling. The writer has a voice that is utterly unique. Since reading this book, I have explored all of this further: I studied Zemurray (whose house was not far from mine in New Orleans and still stands) and am using his story in my next book. I interviewed the author, Rich Cohen. And I read his other books, am particularly found of Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons and Gangster Dreams. The book has all sorts of things going for it: it’s the American Dream, it’s history via microcosm, it’s drama/violence/intrique,... (Source)

Benjamin Spall I loved The Fish That Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen. Not only is it a fascinating story, Cohen's writing is a reminder of just how great non-fiction writing can be if you truly care about it. (Source)

Andrew Wilkinson @BrentBeshore Love that book. (Source)

Trevor Mckendrick Every time I tweet a quote from this book: great read, horrible titled, highly recommended. Zemurray was like the Shackleton of fruit. (Source)

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