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McDonald's: Behind The Arches Paperback – July 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love presents a completely revised and updated version of the history behind the voracious hamburger empire.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

"The history of the McDonald's system is the story of an organization that learned how to harness the power of entrepreneursnot several, but hundreds of them." This work is not the story of Ray Kroc, McDonald's colorful founder, but that of all of the individuals, including the McDonald brothers, suppliers, financiers, franchisees, as well as the early employees, who made McDonald's the undisputed champion of the fast food industry. The complex financial arrangements that were necessary to McDonald's success are made clear, as is the company's commitment to quality, service, and cleanliness. This entertaining work is highly recommended for most public and academic libraries. Michael D. Kathman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Collegeville, Minn.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Rev Sub edition (July 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553347594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553347593
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Caraculiambro on May 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You know how there have been some searing indictments of McDonald's in the last few years, ranging from "Fast Food Nation" to that movie "Supersize Me"?

Well, this book ain't in that category.

Not that this is an OFFICIAL biography of McDonald's or anything, no. It's just that the author is a little too professional to get into the kind of vicious nitpicking that you might expect, given recent lurid developments (obesity lawsuits, bombings of McDonald's, etc.).

No, this book is more of a mature, considered chronicle of the overall health and strategy of the corporation as a whole than a series of cheap take-downs.

True, Love does criticize McDonald's from time to time, but it's not in particularly vicious terms. For example, in the later chapters, he analyzes in some depth the company's ill-fated diversification strategy in the early 90s. He also happily delves into several of Kroc's kooky, doomed ideas.

Unfortunately, many of the "minor hiccoughs" in the company's recent history (e.g., that French farmer that raised a ruckus, that British couple who have devoted their lives to taking them down) are so well-known and fascinating that their absence is keenly felt. And what interesting reading they would have made, given Love's scholarship and even-handedness.

So, while Love is willing, from time to time, to cast a negative light on McDonald's, for the most part the book is a straight macroeconomic history by a man who obviously admires but is not overly-reverential of one of the world's greatest corporations.

If you find that to your liking, you will certainly declare the book an entertaining and useful read -- especially if you're stuck having to write a serious, no-nonsense paper about the chain's corporate strategy, say for a business class.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jack Reynolds on January 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Story telling at its best. I couldn't put it down. Miller was given access to inside information about the company far beyond anything I have read anywhere else.
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29 of 39 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on May 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
The story behind the ubiquitous golden arches, and the man who expanded them coast to coast, (and today they reach the edges of the Earth). This book provides a reader friendly, detailed synopsis of McDonald's through decades of the original brothers, to Ray Kroc's entry and exit of what would become one of the most recognized oranizations of the world. (Whether this fact has positive or negative implications is another matter entirely). This is a good book about Mickey-D's and sheds light on many other aspects of American history, diet, culture, business and advertising.
Two brothers named McDonald went west to California from the north-east. They came with about about $8 dollars in their pockets (according to them) and got jobs moving props on movie sets in Hollywood (sound familiar?) After some initial business ventures the brothers opened their own small restaurant in San Bernadino.
Meanwhile, in the Midwest Ray Kroc left school at 16, and like almost all other achievers that reached his level of success, he had a strong work ethic and a hard-driving tenacity to succeed. Expecially at concepts that intially proved successful (hence SOP procedures). How ya build opon something that has a good and successful foundation. A gifted, successful salesman from an early age, he got a job selling paper cups and sold them for 17 years as one of the top salesman of his company. Some of his clients for example, were Wrigley field's vendors, among other Chicago establishments. In his late thirties, he started selling shake mixers. McDonald's comes into the picture when Kroc noticed that two brothers who owned a drive-in hamburger restaurant in Southern California, kept ordering lots of shake mixing machines, when Kroc's mixer business was dying out everywhere else in the country.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on July 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great bio of a great company. Though it is somewhat dated, this book will set the standard for every deep inquiry into how McDonald's operates. It is simply a remarkable story.

In 1954, salesman Ray Kroc had traveled from Chicago to San Bernardino, California to visit a local restaurant, which was called "McDonald's Famous Hamburgers". Its owners had bought 8 of his Multimixers; with five spindles, he calculated, those Multimixers could churn out 40 milkshakes every few minutes. Why, he wondered, did they need so many? Arriving just prior to the restaurant's opening, Kroc parked his car outside, and waited for customers to arrive. What he saw left him thunderstruck: it was like an assembly line for food that was affordable, good-tasting, and fast. The restaurant was also very clean, the service friendly. Kroc spent that evening with the owner-creators of restaurant, Mac and Dick McDonald, discussing the mechanics of their system. The following day, with a business plan in his mind, Kroc secured the exclusive right from the McDonald brothers to franchise their fast-food system in the U.S. Irrepressibly optimistic, Kroc was 52 and a veteran of several ventures in the food industry.

McDonald's was not the first fast-food restaurant chain: there was A&W Root Beer, Dairy Queen, and scores of others. Each depended on the use of the automobile, in which suburban families could travel to obtain a convenient and inexpensive meal in a clean setting. As part of the contract with the McDonald brothers, Kroc had agreed to follow the basic model of their original restaurant, though changes could be approved in writing. (That would prove an enormous problem later on.) Where Kroc differed from his competitors was in the franchise system that he created.
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