I also recognize that I wouldn’t have considered it a staple of my diet were it not for Zemurray and his predecessors, because the average human, just 120 years ago, would not have known what a banana was if he saw one. A Russian immigrant, coups in Central America and victory in a Boston boardroom – the banana’s story spans the globe. Along the way, he worked every job in the industry. Frankly, I feel like I got to be a fly on the wall in many key moments in Zemurray’s life, but I don’t feel like I ever got into his head. Bananas became a problem mono-product for Central America as well as a symbol of rapid and reckless globalization, argues Peter Chapman in his book, "Bananas: … Rich Cohen is a superb storyteller. Now and Always,The Trusted Content Your Research Requires, Now and Always, The Trusted Content Your Research Requires, Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. At the height of his banana empire, “Sam the Banana Man” had … It’s not all perfect though. After 1932, this world, known as bananaland, … To this end, he worked every job he could, tried every trade. The icon: Sam Zemurray. Today, the series continues with the idea that gave rise to Sam the Banana Man, for a time one of the world's most powerful business leaders. This new information is detailed on the page devoted to Sam Levine as The Banana Man. Better yet, the large corporations that already existed, that already imported these bananas, were providing him with his product almost for free. There was nothing he did not know about bananas, from selling fruit out of a box on the side of a road, to clearing jungle with a machete with the banana cowboys. From an immigrant chasing the American Dream to impoverished workers exploited by that same man, bananas and the businesses that produce and sell them have played an outsized role in the history and culture of the Americas. Samuel Zemurray (born Schmuel Zmurri; January 18, 1877 – November 30, 1961), nicknamed "Sam the Banana Man", was an American businessman who made his fortune in the banana trade. muse@press.jhu.edu. This book is about the life of Samuel Zemurray, the Banana King. He used all his savings to buy ripe bananas, which were considered trash by the established banana companies at the time. Sam the Banana-Man, as he was called throughout his life, really wanted to sell bananas, and he wouldn’t let a government charge him taxes if he could help it. Ambitious entrepreneurs, isthmian politicians, and mercenaries who dramatically altered Central America's political culture, economies, and even its traditional social values populate this lively story of a generation of North and Central Americans and their roles in the transformation of Central America from the late nineteenth century until the onset of the Depression. Perhaps Zemurray did not leave Cohen much in terms of personal writings to work from, but either way, I enjoyed what I read. The fact remains that there WAS a performer who appeared as The Banana Man and that performance is remembered by many with some affection. Edit Close. Sam "the Banana Man" Zemurray, a Bessarabian Jewish immigrant, made a fortune in Honduran bananas after he got into the business of "revolutin," and his exploits are now legendary. Bananaman, a British comic book and cartoon character; Bananaman, a British radio show based on the Bananaman character; Banana Man, a comic series created in 2000 and published by Crack Comics; Comedy. The Banana Men is a study of modernization, its benefits, and its often frightful costs.The colorful characters in this study are fascinating, if not always admirable. "Sam Z, Sam the Banana Man, El Amigo, The Big Russian, The Gringo- he was not an easy person, nor is his biography without controversy. This is not like other biographies I’ve read. Let me first say that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of the man before reading the book, and yet his business accomplishments rank right up there with the greats. ©2021 Project MUSE. The Banana Men is a study of modernization, its benefits, and its often frightful costs.The colorful characters in this study are fascinating, if not always admirable. Where was the greatest reward? 2715 North Charles StreetBaltimore, Maryland, USA 21218, +1 (410) 516-6989 Sam Zemurray – Banana Man of New Orleans Sam The Banana Man In the late 1800s, at age 15, Sam Zemurray immigrated from Russia to Selma, Alabama, where he saw his first banana. I also liked that Cohen took the time to really dive deep into the history of the banana trade, of the banana itself. The Banana Men is a study of modernization, its benefits, and its often frightful costs.The colorful characters in this study are fascinating, if not always admirable. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Sam the Banana Man is the reason why. Known as “Sam the Banana Man,” Zemurray backed the institution in part given his own business interests in the banana industry in Honduras, which were at the time greatly affected by diseases like yellow fever. Sam the Banana Man is all about winning on technicalities ("this is not a bridge, it's just a very long dock"), working with shady governments, installing new and even shadier governments when the shady government wasn't cooperating with him enough. He overthrew more than one democratically elected government in his lifetime, and he did it while spitting in the face of the American government. The Banana Men is a study of modernization, its benefits, and its often frightful costs.The colorful characters in this study are fascinating, if not always admirable. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. I feel like I know so much I didn’t know I wanted to know about this fruit that I’ve been eating since I’m a child. This book recounts, with delightful verve, his military and diplomatic maneuvers in Central America and his colorful life and business practices.” —Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Jobs “Sam ‘the Banana Man' Zemurray was a larger-than-life character. Book I’ve Been Absorbed By – The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King, by Rich Cohen. The book observes Zemurray, it does not understand him. ( Log Out /  How did people in high roles arrive at them? He worked as a carpenter’s assistant, as a delivery boy, house cleaner, he worked in his uncle’s general store, and even as a travelling merchant. Both companies played highly controversial roles in the history of several Latin American countries and had a significant influence on their economic and political develop… View all posts by Nicolas Lemay. But in episode 5 of Quarantine History, it’s New Orleans’ own Sam “Banana Man” Zemurray who takes the fruit straight… An interesting book published in 2012 detailed the life of “Sam the Banana Man” Samuel Zemurray. ©2020 Project MUSE. There was a village green in each town, a schoolhouse, a golf course, and a club where the honchos played faro and stud. While I was initially apprehensive about Cohen’s style of writing, I must say that it was very engaging for a biography, which are so often dull. Philosophy and mechanical engineering major While Zemurray was no soldier, he was a significant actor in the events of the Honduran revolution of 1910-11. A new book about Sam “The Banana man” Zemurray reminds us of the meaning of untrammelled capitalism. ( Log Out /  Four decades later, he would ironically go on to become president of United Fruit and one of the companies largest shareholders. (He was “Sam the Banana Man,” according to Life, “who once used railroads as pushcarts.”) It made sense, but only in a shallow way. Samuel Zemurray, known variously as the Russian, the Gringo and Sam the Banana Man, is the story of the American century -- the best and the worst -- collapsed to the scale of a single life. His hired mercenary Lee Christmas, a bellicose Mississippian, made a reputation in Honduras as a man who could use a weapon. You have permission to edit this image. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Sam "the Banana Man" Zemurray, a Bessarabian Jewish immigrant, made a fortune in Honduran bananas after he got into the business of "revolutin," and his exploits are now legendary. He gives you the academic, third person omniscient perspective, describing the state of the world, and the irony we can draw from hindsight. Rich Cohen: I was a student at Tulane University in New Orleans, where the President lives in the grand mansion that had once been the roosting place of Sam Zemurray, the Banana Man… He alternates between three ways of telling a story. The supporting cast includes Minor Keith, a railroad builder and banana baron; Manuel Bonilla, the Honduran mulatto whose cause Zemurray subsidized; and Jose Santos Zelaya, who ruled Nicaragua from 1893 to 1910.The political and social turmoil of the modern Central America cannot be understood without reference to the fifty-year epoch in which the United States imposed its political and economic influence on vulnerable Central American societies. This is the biography of Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States in 1891. Zemurray seems to have worked every job under the sun. Traveller, musician You know the phrase, “Banana Republic”, well Sam invented it. This book recounts, with delightful verve, his military and diplomatic maneuvers in Central America and his colorful life and business practices.” —Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Jobs “Sam ‘the Banana Man’ Zemurray was a larger-than-life character. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. When he arrived in America with his Aunt, he was 14 years old. Therein lies an interesting economic geography of international intrigue and business success with lessons to be learned today about international trade. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. The other leading figure in Langley and Schoonover's account is Sam "the Banana Man" Zemurray. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Produced by Johns Hopkins University Press in collaboration with The Sheridan Libraries. He decided to get involved in the trade. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. To others, it's the story of a pirate, a conquistador who took without asking." Who was Sam Zemurray? Log In; Subscribe The legacy: To paint a portrait of Sam Zemurray is to paint a portrait of the American dream. When he arrived in America with his Aunt, he was 14 years old. Which, according to Kinzer, is where Sam first immersed himself into geopolitics: Like many other American businessmen in Central America, Zemurray considered his land a private fiefdom. By the age of twenty-one, Sam was worth $100,000 (that’s roughly $3 million today). Who made the most money? He bankrolled the operation, making arms, supplies and ships available to the rebel army. To some it's the story of a great man, a pioneer in business, a hero. This drive fuelled a distinct creativity in Zemurray, to see opportunity before anyone else, and the will to act upon it. The Banana Men: American Mercenaries and Entrepreneurs in Central America, 1880-1930, Lester D. Langley and Thomas D. Schoonover. Ever heard the term "Banana Republic?" Zemurray would grow and overcome everything that stood in his way, for better or worse. Nevertheless, Sam the Banana-Man had an interesting part to play in how the world came to be the way it is. In time he would start his own Banana company, he would import his own fruit, he would purchase land in Central America to grow this fruit! Today: Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Comic books, TV and other media. A controversial figure, Sam Zemurray was a villain, but he also did good. The Code of Samuel Zemurray, the Banana Man - WSJ Five Lessons From the Banana Man Don't trust the experts, go see the jungle for yourself and other business lessons from a … ( Log Out /  Even if Max Roth always was The Banana Man, he continued to use the A. Robins name in association with the performances. This is the biography of Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States in 1891. He came to … Sam stumbled upon the banana in 1895. Banana man, the funny man in a comedy double act; The Banana Man, an American vaudeville performer; Bananaman, a Japanese comedy duo He founded the Cuyamel Fruit Company, and later became president of the United Fruit Company, the world's most influential fruit company at the time. Rich Cohen is a superb storyteller. R eaders of Rich Cohen’s 2009 book Israel Is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and Its History may remember Sam Zemurray, the man who took United Fruit to its apogee. Sam the Banana Man October 11, 2018 by Ellen Terrell The lyrical title of this post refers to Samuel, or Sam, Zemurray who lived in New Orleans for many years. Sam "the Banana Man" Zemurray, a Bessarabian Jewish immigrant, made a fortune in Honduran bananas after he got into the business of "revolutin," and his exploits are now legendary. Zemurray, and the companies he is associated with, are not fondly remembered in Central Amermica. His success earned him the nickname “Sam the Banana Man.” By age twenty-one he had banked $100,000. By the age of 21, in 1898, Sam had saved 100,000$, an enormous sum at the time (perhaps up to three million dollars today). And finally, he even sprinkles in dramatized sequences, where we follow our characters as though we were in a movie. To gain enough money to pay for the passage of his siblings to America. He gives you his personal perspective on things, saying I met x and he told me, or I think y because I read so and so. Produced by Johns Hopkins University Press in collaboration with The Sheridan Libraries. What were the best jobs? He funded schools, hospitals, created school programs specialized in agriculture, and built many hospitals, schools and infrastructure in Central America as well, though I’m certain the locals don’t feel like it made up for the turmoil he imposed upon their nations for his own benefit. Sam "the Banana Man" Zemurray, a Bessarabian Jewish immigrant, made a fortune in Honduran bananas after he got into the business of "revolutin," and his exploits are now legendary. At the time, the exotic fruit was exceedingly rare in the United States, but as legend has it, he instantly saw potential. The predicament of Central Americans today, as isthmian peoples know, is rooted in their past, and North Americans have had a great deal to do with the shaping of their history, for better or worse. He wasn’t too good for anything, but always took the time to take his bearings. So, Sam the Banana Man wasn’t all rotten, and his story is one for the books – just like the history of bananas. His purpose? The magnificent St. Charles Avenue home occupied today by Tulane University's president was formerly that of Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray, the Bill Gates of bananas. Rich Cohen is a superb storyteller. Zemurray began life in Bessarabia and ended it … Change ), 20th Century Machiavelli – The Nico Lemay Blog. Nearly overnight, the boy became a success. Samuel Zemurray Book I’ve Been Absorbed By – The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King, by Rich Cohen. ( Log Out /  This book recounts, with delightful verve, his military and diplomatic maneuvers in Central America and his colorful life and business practices.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs “Sam ‘the Banana Man’ Zemurray was a larger-than-life character. At that time, shiploads of bananas arrived in Alabama. 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