Top critical review
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A disjointed, yet passionate critical appraisal of a global brand
on December 7, 2010
Books in the business profiles categories typically fall into two categories - blind adulation or angry tirades. This one tries to avoid becoming "Exhibit A" for the latter...almost admirably. Blanding does a good job in outlining some of the key controversies Coke has been involved in - bottled water, water pollution, handling unions,impact of advertising on kids, etc. While Blanding takes on a decidely, pre-determined critical view of Coke's role, the issues are well recounted, though one would hard-pressed to find anything significantly "new" information.
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*