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Customer Review

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent slice of history, 3 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Hardcover)
'Chocolate Wars' has several interweaving strands: the history of one major confectioner - Cadbury; the broader story of the rivalries between different firms and the race to discover new and better ways of making cocoa and chocolate; fascinating 19th century social history and a good slice of Quaker history in to the bargain.

Eminently readable, Deborah Cadbury writes with the pace of a thriller - often leaving a chapter on a 'cliff-hanger' which will be resolved later in the account. The development of the chocolate industry could hardly be made more fascinating and enthralling. With rivalry and competition (the 'chocolate wars') between firms in Holland, the U.K., Switzerland and America this book also sweeps in the fascinating history of such companies as Hershey, Rowntree, Fry, Nestle, Lindt and Mars.

Two thirds of the book covers the period up to the outbreak of the First World War - and this is by far the most interesting period. There is a good exposition of Quaker business values and philanthopy and this, inevitably, covers the establishment of the Bourneville model village and Rowntree's subsequent building of a similar venture at New Earswick in York. The social history aspect is fascinating too and, as a former sales representative myself, I was intrigued by the story of Cadbury's 'travellers'. Initially they had just one man who covered the country from the midlands up to the north of Scotland by horse and on foot! Later in the 19th century they had export representatives who went as far afield as Austrailia on speculative (and successful) missions.

On the Quaker history front it was interesting to see that, while George Cadbury firmly opposed the Boer War, his outright Pacifist beliefs were challenged by the fierce German aggression that began the First World War. Two of his sons even went so far as to enlist to fight while another son, Laurence, took the more Quakerly course of joining the Friends' Ambulance Unit.

The last chapters of the book cover the story from the period of the Second World War up to the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft. The tragedy is that, if the monopolies and mergers commission had not blocked the merger of Cadbury and Rowntree, two historic British firms with a similar history and values would have been saved from hostile foreign multinational takeovers.
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