Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World
Read Dan Koeppel's posts on the Penguin Blog.
In the vein of the bestselling Salt and Cod, a gripping chronicle of the myth, mystery, and uncertain fate of the world’s most popular fruit
In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the banana’s history, cultural significance, and endangered future, award-winning journalist Dan Koeppel gives readers plenty of food for thought. Fast-paced and highly entertaining, Banana takes us from jungle to supermarket, from corporate boardrooms to kitchen tables around the world. We begin in the Garden of Eden—examining scholars’ belief that Eve’s “apple” was actually a banana— and travel to early-twentieth-century Central America, where aptly named “banana republics” rose and fell over the crop, while the companies now known as Chiquita and Dole conquered the marketplace. Koeppel then chronicles the banana’s path to the present, ultimately—and most alarmingly—taking us to banana plantations across the globe that are being destroyed by a fast-moving blight, with no cure in sight—and to the high-tech labs where new bananas are literally being built in test tubes, in a race to save the world’s most beloved fruit.
Bananas about Bananas
By Jean A. Railla - January 10, 2008
Dan Koeppel, author of the stunning To See Every Bird on Earth, turns his obsessive inclinations to the banana. Who knew such an everyday, seemingly innocent fruit could embody so much, well, drama? The banana that we all know and love, the Cavendish, is rapidly becoming infected with an unstoppable disease, which threatens to wipe out not only whole crops but whole economies. How and why this is happening and what can be done about it, is the primary--but not only--concern of the book.
More than just a food history, Banana transverses the globe, modern genetics, and past and present political struggles in a fast-paced narrative that reads more like a travelogue than a textbook. Koeppel is one of those rare authors that like Mark Kurlansky, can make any subject come alive. Rather than throw facts at the reader, Koeppel takes you by the hand and walks you through his tale. From genetic research labs in Belgium to plantations in the Philippines, to the creation of... read more
Curiouser and curiouser
By michel.angela.martinez - January 15, 2008
I have sat down to write this review at least 2 dozen times. There are so many things I wish to say about this book. All of them wonderful.
While I could go on at length about technical aspects of banana farming and the endless supply of quirky "did you knows," I think that the most lasting impact that this book had on me is its ability to make me want to learn more. Koeppel's works inform--thoroughly--but they also inspire true wonder and curiosity, and that's where the gold is.
"Banana" is written in a style that, if occasionally austere, is quite quick and energetic; I found it difficult to put the book down. With the turn of every page, I felt I learned something new, and subsequently wanted to learn more: be it about bananas, trade, globalization, science, genetic coding, 20th century marketing practices, the United States' political, cultural, and economic imperialism, the covert domination of "banana republics," violent crackdowns on labor... read more
Bananas, While We Still Have Them
By R. Hardy "Rob Hardy" - January 17, 2008
"Yes, we have no bananas", goes the song, and even if you are not a devotee of tin pan alley ballads, you can probably make that catchy tune of 1923 sound in your head. It was written at a time when, yes, the world risked losing all its bananas, and yes, we ourselves might have no bananas in the future. If that means you won't have bananas to slice upon your cereal, OK, but for others in the world it means they simply won't have enough food. It isn't all a dire story, but in _Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World_ (Hudson Street Press), Dan Koeppel, a popular nature writer, has covered a huge amount of history and biology, both of which are full of dark intimations of the worst aspects of human nature. "The _____ That Changed the World" subtitle is overused, but Koeppel makes it clear that this time it accurately applies. The banana, or the way humans have cultivated and used it, has raised and toppled nations, and still affects current geopolitical forces... read more
Revolutionary guards chanting against the Great Satan, Bush fulminating against the Axis of Evil, Iranian support for Hezbollah, and President Ahmadinejad blaming the U.S. for the world's ills--the ...
On the demand side, exporters and strategic planners approaching the world market face a number of questions. Which countries are supplying plant cuttings and slips; live trees and plants; and bulbs, ...