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Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World [Anglais] [Broché]

Dan Koeppel

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Description de l'ouvrage

30 décembre 2008


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.

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Biographie de l'auteur

Dan Koeppel is a well-known outdoors, nature, and adventure writer who has written for the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Audubon, Popular Science, and National Geographic Adventure, where he is a contributing editor. Koeppel has also appeared on CNN and Good Morning America, and is a former commentator for Public Radio International's Marketplace.


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Commentaires en ligne 

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  100 commentaires
64 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Curiouser and curiouser 15 janvier 2008
Par michel.angela.martinez - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
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 movements--all of it!

Koeppel makes sure to balance the light with the heavy and knows exactly when he's losing those of us that don't exactly find banana DNA the most thrilling topic in the world. "Banana" masterfully weaves diverse issues into a tight, delightful read, leaving the reader excited and hungry for more. I truly cannot give this piece all of the praise it deserves.
72 internautes sur 74 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Bananas about Bananas 11 janvier 2008
Par Jean A. Railla - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
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 banana republics of Central America, to the banana--not the apple--as the most likely fruit in the biblical story of Adam and Eve, Koeppel weaves a rich story, where all these seemingly disconnected pieces come together. Bananas is a remarkable piece of journalism. Anyone interested in the politics and social history of food, or for those just bananas about bananas will appreciate it.
68 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Bananas, While We Still Have Them 17 janvier 2008
Par R. Hardy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
"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.

Bananas have traveled around the world, starting from the wild varieties of South China, Southeast Asia, and India, giving hundreds of cultivated varieties. It is surprising that some have textures like apples, and some must be cooked, and many of them have tart or creamy flavors that American shoppers know nothing about. This is because we buy one banana, the Cavendish which has good properties to make it transportable and long-lasting, but that it forms almost all the world's commercially cultured bananas is its weakness, perhaps a dangerous one. We have been through this before; the Cavendish is not your grandparent's banana. The one they ate was the _Gros Michel_ (Big Mike) banana, which was the monoculture banana of its time until, as one-species crops tend to do, it caught a bad disease, Panama Disease, a fungus that was discovered in that country and then spread worldwide. Bananas by that time had become a worldwide trade, and especially in South America the big companies got the dictators to agree about the dangers of rights for the banana workers, and of labor unions, and the American government helped out. There is new bad news for bananas: Cavendish bananas are now succumbing to Panama disease, as did their predecessor, and the disease is rapidly being transported worldwide. Koeppel maintains that there is one prospect of a solution, and that is genetic modification. GM is regarded with horror as producing "frankenfood", but it is in the banana that it could be used with the least risk. Proprietary seeds won't be developed, both because seeds are hard to come by and because scientists working on the banana genome have agreed that any resultant fruit will be in the public domain. Bananas, which have no seeds or pollen, are at little risk for allowing their modifications to escape into the wild.

Something will have to be done if we want our bananas, and we do want them: we eat more of them than apples and oranges combined. No more bananas would mean a gustatory loss for Americans but a nutritional disaster for Africa and other parts of the world where locally-grown bananas are a staple rather than a snack. The Cavendish was in the wings ready to take the stage when the Gros Michel was slain, and now that the Cavendish may go the same way, there is no understudy waiting to take over. Koeppel's descriptions of history and biology are reasoned and thoughtful, and this is far from an incendiary book. It is full of details that are surprising and amusing, as well as troubling. Koeppel shows that we have taken the banana for granted, and that this is part of its current problem; his welcome book will ensure that the banana's complexities are far better understood.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Solid Read 7 février 2008
Par Amos McLean - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I picked this up on a lark, having enjoyed another micro history work on cotton. I never imagined I would be so interested in a book on bananas, but just a few pages in and I was hooked.

Nice work.
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Banana A very interesting read 23 janvier 2008
Par Kenneth C. Ludmer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book is so informative and interesting that the reader will keep saying " I never knew that". All the common phrases that refer to the banana are explained in fascinating detail. Dan shows us the historical political and human side of the story of tha banana and its perilous journey around the world only now to be on the endangered fruit list.
It is a book that maybe you wouldn't buy by its cover, and that's why they made the comment about judging. This is one fine, enjoyable book. Read it and enjoy.
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