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The Fish That Ate The Whale:
The Life & Times of America's Banana King
About the Author & His Work:
An admirer of the works of journalists A.J. Liebling, Ian Frazier, and Joseph Mitchell, Cohen took a job as a messenger at the offices of The New Yorker magazine, where he published 12 stories in the "Talk of the Town" section in 18 months. After then working as a reporter for The New York Observer, Cohen joined the staff of Rolling Stone in 1994, later moving to Vanity Fair.
Cohen published his first book Tough Jews—a non-fiction account of the Jewish gangsters of 1930s Brooklyn—in 1998. In The New York Times, writer Vincent Patrick called the book "marvelous," with "writing good enough to cause one, at times, to reread a page in order to savor the description” His second work, The Avengers: A Jewish War Story (2000), follows a group of anti-Nazi partisans in the forests of Lithuania at the close of World War II. The book was excerpted in Newsweek. And Publishers Weeklycalled the non-fiction work "a terrific narrative of courage and tenacity” and The Washington Post called it "a tremendous story." His third work, the memoir Lake Effect (2002), received the 2002 Great Lakes Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book. Cohen's 2006 book Sweet and Low is a memoir about the creation of the artificial sweetener, a product invented by Benjamin Eisenstadt, the author's grandfather. Newsweek praised the book as "sad, true and hilarious";[ The Washington Post called it "superb” and "a wildly addictive, high-octane narrative". Writing in The New York Times, critic Michiko Kakutani called the book "a classic"—"a telling—and often hilarious—parable about the pursuit and costs of the American Dream." In 2009, Cohen published Israel is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and its History. In The New York Times Book Review, the writer Tony Horwitz said the book "accomplished the miraculous. It made a subject that has vexed me since childhood into a riveting story." In 2010, Cohen co-wrote the memoir When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead, the story of American film producer Jerry Weintraub; the book was a New York Times bestseller.
Movies and television
About the Book:
“To me,” Rich Cohen has said of his book, “Sam Zemurray’s life is the true story of the American dream—not only of the success but of the prices paid for the ambition that led to success."
Writing for Bloomberg Business Week, Daniel Grushkin said:
Mobile was booming in the last years of the 19th century, a seedy industrial port filled with all the familiar types: the sharpie, the financier, the scoundrel, the chucklehead, the sport. Sam was a bit of everything. He could be shrewd, but he could also be naive. He was greedy for information. He took a room in a seamen’s hotel near the port. The waterfront was crossed by train tracks—dozens of lines converged here. Boxcars crammed with coal, fruit, cotton, and cane stood on the sidings. The railroad conductors were the aristocrats of the scene. They drank coffee in the station house, smug in their checkered caps. The docks were crowded with stevedores, most of them immigrants from Sicily. The train sheds were crowded with peddlers, mostly Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. They bought merchandise off the decks of ships and sold it from carts in the streets of Mobile. One evening, Sam stood on the wharf watching a Boston Fruit banana boat sail into the harbor. The Boston Fruit Company, which would become United Fruit, dominated the trade, with a fleet that carried bananas from Jamaica to Boston, Charleston, New Orleans, and Mobile. Zemurray would have seen one of the smaller ships that made the trip to the Gulf ports, a cutter with sails and engine. The funnel sent up black smoke. The pier strained under the weight of unloaders who appeared, as if out of nowhere, whenever a ship landed. As soon as the boat was anchored, these men swarmed across the deck, ants on a sugar pile, working in organized teams.
Faulkner Society events are made possible in part by support from The Arts Council of New Orleans, the City of New Orleans, and the Decentralized Arts Funding Program of The Louisiana Division of the Arts; the J. J. and Dr. Donald Dooley Fund and administrator, Samuel L. Steele, III; Bertie Deming Smith and the Deming Foundation; the Hearst Corporation and Debra Shriver, Vice President; the Law Firm of Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles; the English Speaking Union; Rosemary James, Joseph DeSalvo and Faulkner House, Inc; Randy Fertel and The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation; Arthur & Mary Davis, Quint Davis, and Pam Friedler; Alexa Georges; the Louisiana State Museum; Elizabeth McKinley; Hotel Monteleone; Mr. & Mrs. Hartwig Moss, III; Theodosia M. Nolan, Tia and James Roddy, and Peter Tattersall; Parkside Foundation; Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre; Anne and Ron Pincus; Other Press, a Division of Random House; E. Quinn Peeper and Michael Harold; Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture: Nancy Cater, Editor; the State Library of Louisiana; Judith "Jude" Swenson in memory of her late husband, James Swenson.