Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Fish That Ate the Whale

The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen

With engaging prose and an engrossing story, Cohen lays out the page-turning life of Sam the Banana Man. He started life on a Russian wheat farm, immigrated to America, and became head of United Fruit during its biggest financial success and largest moral failures.

Cohen can tell a story like nothing else, and this is quite the story to tell. Sam Zemurray is the American dream made real, in the best and worst ways. I didn't know a lot about US involvement in Latin and South America via fruit companies beyond the term "Banana Republic" and it being super shady, and this really helped lay out a lot of what was going on. From the New Orleans docks to Panamanian banana plantations to Manhattan boardrooms, it was a book I could not put down. A perfect blend of fascinating subject and wonderful narrative voice. I have put several other books by Cohen on hold.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Sunday, August 04, 2019

More Holds

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

From Kirkus: "In the shadow of a violent dictatorship, five queer women find the courage and strength to live their truth... A stunning novel about queer love, womanhood, and personal and political revolution" In takes place in Uruguay in the late 70s.

The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell

I'm very intrigued by the structure of this one--each chapter is told by a different women who loved the same man at different points in his life.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

Historical fiction set in 17th century Iceland (?!) and features tension between Christianity and Nordic religions?

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bookleg King, the Women who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz Age America by Karen Abbott

Just the subtitle alone sells it, but I also really enjoyed Abbott's Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.

Cold Warriors: Writers who Waged the Literary Cold War by Duncan White

Ok, at nearly 800 pages, the chances of me actually reading this are slim at best, but it does look fascinating--it's about how governments silenced writers or used their writing "as a weapon and a shield" and goes beyond just the US and USSR to include other parts of the Cold War, such as Latin America. This is a subject on my mind, as I am going to read The Secrets We Kept.

The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer

A middle grade book about the fall of communism in Romania. I think I'm drawn to MG (and YA) about the fall of European communism because I was an MG reader when it happened. (I was in 4th grade when the Berlin Wall fell). Excited for this one. (Also, because I'll yell about it every time communism and Romania come up--have you seen the wonderful documentary Chuck Norris vs Communism? It's a fascinating look at the role black market American movies played at the end of the regime)

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas


One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten

Weingarten went back to find out what happened on December 28, 1986--by all accounts a slow news day, but he finds the stories and follows up on them.  PW says "the result is a trove of compelling human-interest pieces with long reverberations."

Chop Suey Nation by Ann Hui

Long-time readers of this site know I love a food history book, especially one on Chinese food (I still recommend Fortune Cookie Chronicles whenever I can). This one looks at Chinese food in Canada. Here for it.

The Spy Killer by Jimmy Sangster

This was originally published in the UK in 1967. The plot description in PW had more twists and turns than I could track, but it only weighs in at 180 pages? I'm intrigued.

Grimm, Grit and Gasoline edited by Rhonda Parrish

Dieselpunk and Decopunk retellings of fairytales. (Apparently dieselpunk and decopunk is like steampunk, but between WWI and WWII). You know how much fairy tale retellings!

The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Ireland, but instead of British imperialism, it's faerie invasions. Also, it's romance.

The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses by Dan Carlin

Hardcore History in book form? Yes, please!

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.