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Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 23, 2010

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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First edition. edition (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553804375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553804379
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

A Note from Stephen Fried on Appetite for America

I first encountered Fred Harvey seventeen years ago in the lobby of El Tovar, the historic hotel just a few steps from the edge of the Grand Canyon. His moody portrait was hanging there, his anxious eyes seemingly scrutinizing everything, and I wondered who the hell he was.

A pamphlet in our room offered some insight, explaining that his company had been running the hotels, the restaurants, the gift shops at the canyon--even training the mules--since 1905. It also mentioned the amazing impact of his entrepreneurial vision. From the 1870s through the 1940s, Fred's revolutionary family business--which included restaurants, hotels, dining cars and stores from Chicago to Los Angeles along the Santa Fe railroad, and later along Rt. 66--had forever changed the way Americans ate, drank, cooked, traveled, and spent their leisure time.

Hotel pamphlets don't often change my life, but I was immediately struck by what sounded like a great American saga that needed to be told in more depth, perhaps in a magazine article. So I started searching for information about Fred, picking up the few academic books that mentioned him, his company, and his legendary waitresses, the Harvey Girls.

I learned that the Fred Harvey name had once been ubiquitous in America, as the company built the nation's first chain of restaurants, lunchrooms, hotels, bookstores--in fact, the first national chain of anything--and was heralded for its unusually high standards of customer service and employee loyalty. By the 1940s, Fred and the Harvey Girls were such a well-established part of Americana that they inspired both a best-selling novel and an Oscar-winning movie musical with Judy Garland. And they went on to inspire everything from the Howard Johnson's chain to McDonald's and Starbucks, and all the major national hotels (along with a robust community of Harvey memorabilia collectors.)

As I continued my research, I found myself caught up in the little-known Harvey family drama. I realized that much of what was attributed to Fred himself had actually been done by his equally brilliant but unsung son, Ford--who memorialized his father by turning him into a brand-name. I am a sucker for stories about father-son family businesses, having grown up in one myself (furniture).

Somehow I never got around to writing that article. But ten years later, I was having lunch with my editor at Bantam, and we started talking about the new breed of history books--like Seabiscuit and Devil in the White City--being written by contemporary journalists. I suddenly found myself regaling her with my fascination with Fred Harvey, insisting that the saga of his multigenerational family business had all the excitement, intrigue and narrative richness of this new genre of "history buffed" books. Writing it would also give me a window into an entire 75-year stretch of American history.

By the end of the lunch, we agreed I write a book on Fred. It was the best decision I ever made in my career; this has been the most challenging and rewarding book I've ever written.

The more I've learned about Fred, his family, his Harvey Girls, his business and his world, the more I understand about America. And, by reliving through them two Depressions and several major recessions, two world wars, two flu pandemics, the rise of trains, autos and planes, electric lights, telephones, radio and television, I am constantly reminded of this nation's courage and resiliency.

The very first person (besides my editors) to read the manuscript of this book told me Fred's story made him feel better about America. And I know exactly what he means.

May Fred be with you.

From Publishers Weekly

The British-born Fred Harvey and his name stood for American hospitality for many years. In an impressive, comprehensively researched tome, Fried tells the intertwined stories of the man, his family, his company, and America. After Harvey's mid-19th-century immigration, he tried various jobs in the Midwest before business instincts and ambitions merged with the Santa Fe Railroad's founding. As the railroad's growth aided rapid westward expansion, Harvey established the first chain restaurants, called Harvey House. Through Gilded Age economic bust and recovery and into the new century, his company's fortunes attached to such novel American developments as the automobile and national parks, especially the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, through innovations such as progressive employment practices, merchandising, and marketing, the company stayed strong beyond its founder's death. His family ensured that it remained private and profitable through the railroad's decline and into the Depression. From the battle of the Little Bighorn to the Manhattan Project, Fried makes such lively use of the many remarkable intersections between major American and company history that this volume, though hefty, meticulously detailed, and slightly hagiographic, has unusually broad potential. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Stephen Fried is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who teaches at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Pennsylvania. He has written five widely praised books: THING OF BEAUTY: THE TRAGEDY OF SUPERMODEL GIA (which inspired the Emmy-winning HBO film Gia and introduced the word "fashionista" into the English language); BITTER PILLS; THE NEW RABBI; HUSBANDRY; and APPETITE FOR AMERICA: FRED HARVEY AND THE BUSINESS OF CIVILIZING THE WILD WEST--ONE MEAL AT A TIME (a New York Times best seller that was also named one of the ten best books of the year by the Wall Street Journal.)

THE PAST AND FUTURE OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND ADDICTION with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy for Blue Rider/Penguin. He also lectures on the subjects of his books.

A two-time winner of the National Magazine Award, he has written for Vanity Fair, Glamour, The Washington Post Magazine, GQ, Rolling Stone, Ladies Home Journal, Parade, and Philadelphia magazine (where he got his start.) Fried lives in Philadelphia with his wife, author Diane Ayres.

Customer Reviews

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The Fred Harvey story is fabulous.
If you enjoy history (especially American) or if you enjoy reading about the rise and fall of businesses I would highly recommend this book.
First it is a very well written, very well researched book.

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