Best Non-Fiction Books to Read: The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King

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The banana industry may seem like relatively mundane, but there is actually a lot of history and drama. Although my uncle works in the banana industry in Japan, I do not know a lot about it, so reading The Fish that Ate the Whale was an informative read.

The Fish that Ate the Whale talks mainly about United Fruit and Samuel Zemurray. Zemurray is not a name that I was familiar with before reading the book, but he is like the Godfather of the banana industry. The book starts with Zemurray’s childhood and rise to becoming the banana king, before then talking about his time working for United Fruit (the largest banana company at the time, who bought out Zemurray’s smaller company).

In addition to discussing the banana industry, The Fish that Ate the Whale also goes into depth about the other impacts the banana industry had on the world. United Fruit was one of the largest companies in the US at the time, which meant that it had a lot of representation and sway in political developments; this strong political connection meant that United Fruit could rely on the US military to help achieve its objectives in countries where it grew bananas. If foreign leaders were not cooperative in helping out United Fruit, they would often be replaced by violent methods.

I learned a lot about both world history and bananas from reading The Fish that Ate the Whale, and all in all it was a very entertaining read!

The Fish that Ate the Whale Recommendation Rating: 4

1: Something worth checking out if you have time

2: Something that is a hit for some people, but not a must for everyone

3: Something worth prioritizing if interested

4: Something worth making time to check out

5: An absolute home run, worth going out of your way for


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