- Reading level: 18+ years
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Penguin USA; Reprint edition (30 December 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780452290082
- ISBN-13: 978-0452290082
- ASIN: 0452290082
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,23,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World Paperback – 30 Dec 2008
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“Required reading.”—New York Post
“Ambitious in scope… both fascinating and disturbing... I’ll never walk through the produce aisle the same way again… [Banana] is at once a political and economic treatise, a scientific explication, and a cultural history.”—The Boston Globe
“Clear, engaging… admirable… part historical narrative and part pop-science adventure.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] brilliant history.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A fascinating and surprising history of our most ubiquitous fruit.”—Edward Humes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Monkey Girl and Mississippi Mad
“The history of oil has nothing on that of the yellow fruit.”—Salon.com
About the Author
Dan Koeppel, a 2011 James Beard Award winner, is a science and nature writer who has written for National Geographic, Outside, Scientific American, Wired, and other national publications. He has discussed bananas on NPR’s Fresh Air and Science Friday.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I was disappointed.
Two points of contention:
1. this writer is looking for a sensational angle which ten years after writing has not been borne out.
Our supermarkets are still offering an abundance of bananas - organic and pesticide-sprayed.
After repetitive 'doom and gloom' assertions the author's argument starts to sound hollow and false and does not add value to the information presented. His thesis is outdated. I do not get the impression it had much validity while he was collecting facts for his 260 page treatise.
2. if you are going to write a non-fiction account about the banana make it interesting. Make it EXCITING. Tell some good stories. Koeppel is no story-teller. He collects facts and regurgitates them rather than offer any deep 'aha!' analysis. Let's get some tension going in this book. Keep me glued to my chair. This book lists fact after fact and throws in some personal tragedies which are not pertinent ('Mr. X committed suicide', 'Mr. Y committed suicide).
Challenge my perspectives. Do not bore me with your platitudes. It is a very black and white rendition of 'bad, big business' is bad and its victim. Yawn. Is that the best you can offer?
Here an example of a listing of facts that did not illuminate any important fact about bananas and made reading tedious:
p. 191 in 1991, 1,650 acres of land were cultivated; the next year, the number rises to 1,892. The it drops to 1,378, rises a bit to 1,440....
Seriously, who cares?
"But I don't think so."
Let the author present some unusual connections between the facts and then hand it back to the reader form their own opinions.
This book did not do the banana justice and I look forward to seeing a more gifted writer present this important culinary topic in a more comprehensive, less sensational, more thorough, insightful and gripping manner.
While Koeppel, fortunately, has not succeeded in spoiling my appetite for bananas, this book does not spike my interest in seeking out other books penned by him.
Maybe other members of the library will find more spark in 'Banana'. Good luck.
Any venture this large and profitable will undoubtedly lead to arguments over the division of profits. Central American politicians and farm workers were not in agreement with the share taken by Chiquita. The international banana companies (Chiquita had eliminated most of its competition through punitive trade wars and acquisition) felt their property rights, capital, and technology were at risk. In Honduras, Guatemala, and Ecuador this became a real fight in most cases as politicians brought in the military and covert forces to figure it all out.
The other interesting sections here deal with the inherent difficulties in growing and breeding bananas as they are seedless (we would not care to eat them as much otherwise) and sexless (they dont reproduce as much as grow into an adjacent plant). The first bananas to be globally commercialized were the Gros Michael, which ultimately was replaced by today's Cavendish. The Gros Michael disappeared due to Panama disease and other ailments despite the industry's efforts which included endless replanting, field flooding, and application of enough chemicals to turn workers blue.
For many years various researchers have worked on the next generation banana, as the Cavendish itself is subject to the same diseases that ultimately did in the Gros Michael. The Cavendish was selected as it was less suspectible but Keoppel claims its days are numbered as well. Only in certain especially forelorn sections of impoverished Africa (such as Uganda where the economy is banana based) are genetically modified bananas grown. Those of us in the west may ultimately need to eat GM bananas or no bananas.
This is a good informative book for both the general audience and the trade. Koeppel is an experienced writer who knows how to break down concepts like how bananas propogate and how diseases spread. He is especially talented at tying in the historical and political content. His evidence to support the impending demise of the Cavendish hypothesis is a bit weak. His bias against big powerful industry shows at times but that is probabaly healthy.