Both companies played highly controversial roles in the history of several … In the banana belt of the Caribbean he was first known as "Sam, the Banana Man," and then later as "the fish that swallowed the whale." Put them together and you have a startling and often hilarious account of one of the forgotten heroes (and villains) of the American empire.” —Zev Chafets Sam Zemurray. Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray introduces the United States to the wonders of the banana and becomes the richest man in New Orleans. By age 21, he had banked $100,000. Which, according to Kinzer, is where Sam first immersed himself into geopolitics: Like many other American businessmen in Central America, Zemurray considered his land a private fiefdom. Sam The Banana Man. After 1932, this world, known as bananaland, was led by Samuel Zemurray, Sam the Banana Man, a huge, colorful Russian who started out selling … Rich Cohen is a superb storyteller. He founded the Cuyamel Fruit Company, and later became head of the United Fruit Company, the world's most influential fruit company at the time. His success earned him the nickname “Sam the Banana Man.” By age twenty-one he had banked $100,000. They loaded green bananas on trains bound for cities all across America. The colorful characters in this study are fascinating, if not always admirable. He came to … He later bought a steamship and went to Honduras. Zemurray was also widely known in Central America for his philantropic works. Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray was born Schmuel Zmurri in Bessarabia, Russia, in 1877 to a poor Jewish family. At that time, shiploads of bananas arrived in Alabama. In 1910, he bought 5,000 acres (20 km²) of land along the Cuyamel River. “Sam ‘the Banana Man’ Zemurray was a larger-than-life character. Zemurray began life in Bessarabia and ended it as the de facto regent of South America. The Banana Men is a study of modernization, its benefits, and its often frightful costs. Samuel Zemurray (nicknamed "Sam the Banana Man"; born Schmuel Zmurri; January 18, 1877 – November 30, 1961) was a businessman who made his fortune in the banana trade. They emigrated to the United States when he was 14, where he began selling excess bananas from the ports in New Orleans to grocers along the railways lines so they could be sold inland before they were spoiled. This gave Sam an idea. Photo Illustration Chris Silas Neal; Associated Press (Zemurray) By Rich Cohen. He later added more land and found himself heavily in debt. They threw the ripe bananas into the bay. The icon: Sam Zemurray. His success earned him the nickname "Sam the Banana Man." In the late 1800s, at age 15, Sam Zemurray immigrated from Russia to Selma, Alabama, where he saw his first banana. The legacy: To paint a portrait of Sam Zemurray is to paint a portrait of the American dream. 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