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The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink Hardcover – September 16, 2010
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"Like Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, The Coke Machine embeds current issues with history, policy, and interviews to reveal the wizard behind the curtain." --Suite101.com
"An eye opening expose which blows the plastic lids off a company known to associate itself with love and happiness... The book lays out the case against Coke in startling clarity." --TowerReview.com
"The book's sixty-three pages of notes attest to [Blanding's] careful research, and lend a vital legitimacy to his allegations--this is much more than an activist's polemic." --[tk] review
"Important and readable... Blanding's painstakingly reported book reminds us that Coke's global success--perhaps like all spectacular global success--came at a price" --The Atlantic
"Every company has a dark side, and you won't believe how dark Coca-Cola's is. After reading this book, good luck having a Coke and smile." --Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me
"Coca-Cola wants to teach the world to sing, but in the process they've trashed water supplies, peddled sugar to generations of kids, and undermined worker rights around the world. Put down your soda, read The Coke Machine and join the global movement to rein in unaccountable corporations." --Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed and Brightsided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
"In The Coke Machine, Michael Blanding takes a tough, unsweetened look at the business practices of this iconic American company. His investigations reveal the costs--in ethics, health, public resources, and sometimes even human life--of Coca-Cola's relentless pressure to expand sales of its products. This book is a terrific introduction to the inner workings of corporate capitalism as it plays out on a global scale." --Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, and author of Food Politics and What to Eat
"In shocking detail, Blanding uncovers Coke's numerous transgressions against humanity and nature... Blanding's thoroughly detailed, stimulating and challenging study will have many readers saying, 'Give me a Pepsi.'" --BookPage, September 2010
"By this account, Coke's domination of the market begins to look less like a triumph of advertising and more like a symptom of the dark side of globalisation." --The Financial Times, September 20, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
The last section of the book deals with Coca-Cola's constant growth, requiring globalization and aspirational marketing that paints Coca-Cola as a squeaky-clean beverage company even if the reality is dirtied water supplies in India, contaminated sludge sold as fertilizer, toxic chemicals in recycled tap water marketed under the Dasani brand in England and France, or the snuffing out (quite literally, in the case of the murder of union organizer Isidro Gil in Venezuela) of union organization worldwide.
The Coke Machine ties together disparate memes such as obesity, underfunded public schools, environmental damage, corporate overreach and globalization and does it well. A wild ride and a great read.
Blanding's eagerness for a passionate argument for encouraging readers to take a critical look at Coke would have been helped if the book was better organized - perhaps across 3-4 themes - environmental (bottled water, pollution in India), union and labor standards (most of the events around bottlers in Latin America) and other issues such as advertising and obesity. The frequent shifting of the narrative from one of these themes to another is distracting and prevents Blanding from building a real case, even if there is sufficient research (mostly by his own interviews) into his narrative. In fact, the final chapter, "The case against coke" is a disappointment - instead of summarizing the key arguments and suggest remedial measures and/or any actions by an average reader, Blanding falls back to continue his narrative and fails to make a powerful closing argument.
Blanding's recounting and first-person reporting on the issues around bottlers/unions in itself an interesting read. Perhaps, focusing on this theme alone would have given the book far more attention than what it will probably receive. Overall, a well-researched re-hash of Coke controversies - that unfortunately doesn't live up to its potential. An OK read. 3.5*
From a purely aesthetic point of view, THE COKE MACHINE is well organized, strongly researched and superbly written. The introduction begins with a grueling story of a murdered union worker in Columbia and compels the reader to consider the complex question of corporate responsibility for moral and ethical behavior in the face of a corporation's drive toward stakeholder profits. Blanding builds momentum by describing the history of Coke, its ad campaigns, and its national struggles to resist any negative mark on its brand image. Part two weaves Coke's international story through Mexico, Colombia, India and Guatemala, raising questions about Coke's role in environmental destruction, water shortages, dismantling of unions, and even murder.
There's something interesting for everyone in this book, because the Coca-Cola Company is ubiquitous within the United States and internationally, and because it has affected all of our lives whether we realize it or not. As The Coke Machine describes, Coke has spent its more than one hundred years in existence protecting its image and sales beyond anything else; the "dirty truth" about Coke that Blanding so factually lays out before us. If you're a parent, the book's chapter on "The Battle for Schools" should not go unread.Read more ›
That said, the information proffered is excellent, all-encompassing and well organized. I already knew Coke was terribly bad for you on a dietary level, and had heard about their infiltration of schools and machinations in the obesity debate. But I'd had no idea how galling the company's policies and practices were at the corporate and international levels. I gave up soda years ago, but if I hadn't I'd definitely be motivated to do so now!
This expose is well worth everyone's time and attention, and genuinely deserving of the praise it received from Real Food icons like Marion Nestle.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some of the chapters start out or include smutty little portions which should have been part of a grocery store tabloid rather than a history of the company with the... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Miller.
This man claims to profess the truth and would seem to exude credibility. There are no real problems until we come across Coca-Cola's brand of bottled water, Dasani. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Proman_JS
You know what I found compelling about this book? Even my 12 year old grandson was interested in it's content. Read morePublished on May 15, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Amazing how much influence a soft drink can have. In some cultures, it was a sign of wealth just to be able to serve it because it was difficult to obtain.Published on March 8, 2013 by Kerrie
I went in to this book hoping to get more detail regarding Coke's behavior in the world regarding third world water supplies. Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by Trey Hollen
A well researched, well written book about what is arguably the world's most recognizable brand. The author provides a glimpse corporate history as to how they achieved that... Read morePublished on January 17, 2013 by Frank Sawinsky