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Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola Paperback – 25 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (25 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091922933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091922931
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.9 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 636,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

This is great comedy, great travel writing, and great reporting --The Times (27/09/2008)

By far the most entertaining left-wing polemicist currently operating, as well as one of the smartest and most effective --The Times (27/09/2008)

A compelling investigation --Financial Times (02/11/2008)

Review

'By far the most entertaining left-wing polemicist currently operating, as well as one of the smartest and most effective' - Times

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A. Webb on 11 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading any of Mark Thomas's books, articles, or even watching an episode of the television series that preceeded them always leaves me feeling angry, depressed and with a real frustration that I am doing little to make the world a better place. So it was with some trepidation that I finally picked up Belching Out The Devil. I was also concerned that as a conscientious consumer who already avoids Coca-Cola that the book would merely be preaching to the converted (me).

Belching Out The Devil brings you on a journey around the world, tackling the many issues that blacken the Coca-Cola brand; the infringement on workers rights, the environmental impact and drought caused by the bottling plants and the pure disregard that The Coca-Cola Company has for the communities it inhabits. It is an easy read packed with hard hitting facts, humour and pop culture references which help you connect with the author, meaning that he becomes a character in his own book rather than assuming the role of preacher. It is well researched and leaves no hole for Coca-Cola to wiggle through. At all times Coca-Cola are asked to respond to Mark Thomas's allegations and at all times his questions are greeted with frustrating PR spiel, there is a hope that if Coca-Cola learn anything from this book it would be to stop making excuses and actually commit themselves fully to the corporate social responsibility they espouse.

There is no call to action in Belching Out The Devil but it does leave you with the sensation of needing to do something, weather it be a boycott or just awareness raising amongst those you know. Some of the stories contained within are reassuring proof that it is possible for one person to make a difference.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Lee on 16 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
No one else seems to have the cohones of this man, I applaud him, for both his tenacity, but also for his humor in the face of so much global misery, having recently seen his live show as well I have even more admiration for him, buy this book and admire the man that dares to go up against big business and Governments.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Marczak TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
Once a political stand up, Mark Thomas has taken his unusual research methodology from the arms trade to the world of "sparkling beverages" in this, his second full length book.

Those, who are expecting to read about political hi-jinx in the style of his mass lone demonstrations or pretending to be a PR firm for arms dealers, will find that the style of attack has become far more direct. Thomas takes the fight directly to The Coca Cola Company, and does not try to disguise it.

The mood is fairly bleak, and it remains that way throughout the book. There are funny passages describing his experiences of airport terminals and strange rituals, but this is not a book to laugh at.

This is a book that documents injustices handed out to workers in Colombia, India and El Salvador, and sees how Coca Cola has even managed to become part of a religion.

Whilst you'd expect the anti-Coke message to power through, this is a far more measured appraisal, compared to the pure hatred levelled at arms dealers. The Coke PR Machine occasionally has the answers, but they are often far from satisfactory.

If I were to level one criticism at this book - the spelling and grammar were all over the place. Did I get a duff copy, has anyone else noticed there are errors in every chapter?

That said, this is a a must read for those who want to know what the "sparkling beverage" industry is really responsible for.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By An avid reader on 2 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an educational and and enjoyable read even though the story is about the blighted lives of people on different continents at the hands of coke.
Mark exposes the staunch anti union attitudes of the company, the damage they cause to the environment and the lies they tell when fingers are pointed at them, not to mention the bully-boy tactics when their grasp on the market is threatened.
It's only sugary water after all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Williams on 4 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
I've always liked Mark Thomas' brand of protest politics, investigative journalism and stand-up comedy, so I was interested to see he has taken on the mighty Coca Cola empire.

My first impressions of this particular book though, are two-fold: firstly, that's a terrible name. Secondly, it's a terrible cover. Still, it's the writing inside that counts, and all is well on that front.

`Belching out the devil' chronicles a series of journeys to various parts of the world to meet those who have experienced `the Coke side of life'. There are Indian farmers with empty wells, Colombian trade unionists with collections of death threats, hassled Mexican shopkeepers who committed the unforgivable sin of stocking rival brand `Big Cola' in their fridges. Thomas does a great job of portraying these characters, giving them faces and names and vividly describing their communities, interspersing their stories with his own amusing travel writing.

Coca Cola get the right to reply, and a pattern rapidly emerges: because Coca Cola operate a franchise system, their back is always covered. "The Coca Cola Company does not own or operate any bottling plants in Colombia" has always, famously, been their answer to accusations of union busting, even to the point where 7 union organisers were killed at one bottling plant. They are able to say the same of the bottlers in India who are lowering the water table, or the ones employing children in El Salvador.

As Thomas says, "no matter where the human rights abuses occurred, if it's your name on the label then you're responsible for sorting it out." Unfortunately this could be said of almost every major corporation, from oil companies to high street fashion houses. Brands should not be allowed to hide behind middle men.
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