If you have even a smidgen of what the United Fruit Co. was all about, you will love this look at the world's most popular fruit--the banana. That connection will help you understand the true meaning of a banana republic and how US foreign policy in Latin America was shaped by this fruit (get the book and all will be revealed).
Banana doesn't stop there. The author presents some important yet not widely known info about the fruit. We learn about the popular varieties of bananas (yes, not all bananas are created equal), the lyrics of that famous Carmen Miranda song that presented such a falsehood about refrigerating bananas, the reason genetic modification may actually save this tasty fruit from extinction and many more tangents that help us understand why this simple fruit is a world changer.
The writing is in-depth but with a breezy style. Adding the "Banana Time Line" in the Appendix was a stroke of genius. Even the cover adds a nice, almost Warholian Velvets and Nico album cover, touch by having the banana pictured actually feel like a banana skin when you run your fingers over it.
on June 6, 2014
Koeppel covers just about all conceivable ground, but his concise political and historical summaries are rather more effective than his attempts to deal with the more scientific side of the story. These are diffuse if not obscurantist or irrelevant (e.g., a page-long description of a banana-devoid street outside a building that houses an institute devoted to study of the banana). Students of Central American history are likely to find the relevant sections of the book of interest.