THE COLONEL: A Biography of Colonel Harland Sanders and the Rise of Kentucky Fried Chicken by John E. Pearce

THE COLONEL: A Biography of Colonel Harland Sanders and the Rise of Kentucky Fried Chicken

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the example of the late Colonel Harland Sanders (1890-1980) and Kentucky Fried Chicken, ""the Great American Dream still exists""--says Kentucky governor and ex-KFC proprietor John Y. Brown, Jr., in the foreword. And Sanders, who didn't make his bundle till past retirement age, ought to be an especial inspiration to oldsters. What follows is a plodding account of a buccaneering life and an unrevealing report of a spectacular business success. Fatherless Harlan left his Kentucky backwoods home at twelve to begin working at an endless succession of jobs--farmer, streetcar fare collector, blacksmith's helper, railyard worker, railroad fireman, soldier, lawyer--most of which he lost to his temper or his taste for something new until, at 30 or so, he discovered that he was a ""natural salesman."" Thereafter he sold everything: insurance, tires, ferryboat rides, lamps, parking spaces, and finally--when a traveling salesman complained that he couldn't find a decent place to eat--food. The rest wasn't yet history. A diner in a Corbin, Ky., gas station led to a twelve-year search for the magic fried-chicken formula, and the first franchises--but Sanders was still peddling his own product (now, in a gold-colored Rolls) when he hooked up with ""tall, handsome, athletic, energetic,"" young lawyer John Y. Brown, Jr. In 1964, Brown and a partner bought out the Colonel, retained him as goodwill ambassador, hired a PR man to build up his image, launched the free-standing fast-food outlets--mean while fending off the testy Colonel's attempts to keep control. But even the comic bits (the Colonel's outrage at the nontraditional ""crisp chicken"" recipe, his vociferous opposition to Brown's gubernatorial bid) lack real grit. Juiceless--yet with American-Dream appeal.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday