A fine pocket history of corporate confectionery, though there’s still room for a less Cadbury-focused entry.

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CHOCOLATE WARS

THE 150-YEAR RIVALRY BETWEEN THE WORLD'S GREATEST CHOCOLATE MAKERS

The tale of the surprisingly cutthroat world of corporate chocolate-making, influenced by religion, science, slavery and globalization.

In early 2010, Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury, the longtime independent British chocolate maker. Deborah Cadbury (Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space, 2006, etc.), a descendant of the family that had run what was once the world’s largest confectioner, laments the ownership change, and makes her anti-Kraft bias clear in the opening and closing pages of the book. The narrative isn’t solely focused on Cadbury, however, and the author gives ample space to the many firms that have fought to dominate the market since the mid-1800s. At that time, Cadbury was one of a handful of Quaker-owned British confectioners that eschewed advertising and redirected profits to charity. But the firms weren’t especially talented at making very good chocolate, and they struggled to produce a tasty and sturdy chocolate bar. As American and Swiss firms like Hershey and Nestlé began to perfect that bar, Cadbury and others hastened to keep up. The author entertainingly captures the spirit of innovation—and occasional lobbying and corporate espionage—that pulled Cadbury from the brink of disaster. The family’s influx of profits, along with its do-gooder instincts, prompted it to construct Bournville, a corporate campus for workers away from the Birmingham slums, and to halt the slave-labor practices in São Tomé and Príncipe, where much of its cocoa was grown. Through the 20th century, the British companies were challenged not just by European companies but American juggernauts like Hershey and Mars, and Cadbury has a knack for capturing the driven personalities who launched these empires. Corporate growth has its downside, though, and some of the book’s personality is bled from the later chapters, as globalization begins to hold sway and the narrative focuses more heavily on merger negotiations. By the end, a better chocolate bar has been built, but Cadbury’s storytelling has faded as much as the company’s old Quaker-capitalist morals.

A fine pocket history of corporate confectionery, though there’s still room for a less Cadbury-focused entry.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58648-820-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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