Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas

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Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A coruscating look at the worldwide activities of Coca Cola. You might not think they'd like to teach the world to sing after reading it. Thomas falls between the jocularity of Michael Moore and the painstaking notations of John Pilger.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Ebury Press
ISBN: 0091922933

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I don't drink fizzy drinks, aside from the odd mixer in a rare visit to the pub. There, I said it. I've consigned myself to the dinosaur generation. I drink tea, and - gasp - water. From the tap. So I get to read Mark Thomas's coruscating indictment of the Coca Cola Company with a rather smug smirk on my blameless lips. Predictably, the smug smirk doesn't last very long. A quote from the Guardian on the book's jacket proclaims John Pilger with laughs and of course Mark Thomas is witty. He's very witty. But there's precious little in the way of laughs.

Belching Out the Devil takes us from Colombia, where Coca Cola workers who dare to unionise are assassinated, to Chile and Turkey, where they're intimidated and sacked, to El Salvador, where many of them are children who aren't getting an education, to India where workers are exposed to chlorine and where Coca Cola takes all the water, leaving mothers to fisticuffs over the drops that are left, and to Mexico, where people are growing fatter almost by the minute, and where anyone daring to stock rival products is driven into bankruptcy.

Are you surprised? I doubt it. Some of Thomas's stories about this iconic brand's nastiness have made it through the corporate stalling right onto the nightly news, thanks to the courage of some of the people he writes about. But whether you're new to this tale of corporate buck-passing or not, Belching Out the Devil is something you should read. Like his less satirical campaigner, John Pilger, Thomas's strength lies in the voice he gives to the little people - the faces behind the political points. He's easy to read - for while I say there's no laughs, that's not quite true. There's wit aplenty, much of it vicious, but all of it exactly to the point. It will make you laugh, perhaps, but what it won't do is amuse you.

I had dog-eared a dozen or more pages with points and illustrations from the book that I thought I ought to make. But really you should read it for yourself. I'll confine myself to a typically pithy Thomas remark about the Coca Cola Company from the bottom of page 236.

They simply didn't give a fuck.

Those interested in the general nature of corporate capitalism should read Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain by George Monbiot. Shopped by Joanna Blythman talks about British supermarkets.

Buy Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas at Amazon.com.


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