This is a book which is very strongly against the actions of the Coca Cola company. On page 4 he refers to the company as 'stands accused of drought, disease, exploitation and murder.' In effect, the author is coming out swinging.
Starting on page 13 he attacks the inventor of the Coca Cola formula, and charges that he 'regularly dipped into his pharmacy cabinet for hits of morphine.' He was said by three others in the pharmacist trade to be an addict.
This is how the book seems to be set up. A major charge is made against Coca Cola or someone associated with that. The charge seems to be 'guilt by association' more than anything else. In this case, the author claims Pemberton was an addict, yet can only offer the verbal accusations of others and no actual, hard evidence.
On page 14 he is bascially accusing Pemberton of plagarism of the formula, using something called Mariani as the basic formula and adding some other ingredients.
He also goes rather far in his sniping. From page 16: In referring to the drink's origins, the author says 'the drink's origins seem more like a religious creation myth than a product formulation.'
The the author goes after Asa Candler, who bought Coca Cola production rights. The author says it took years of maneuverings 'and possibly outright theft.' Again, the use of a rather vague term, 'possibly.' It proves nothing.
Then he oddly slips in something positive on page 50 about soldiers in World War II liking Coke and linking it to the fight for the Allies.
Then he accuses Coca Cola of going along with the Nazis, citing the case of a Nazi who kept Coca Cola flowing to Nazi soldiers, then later invented a different drink and named in Fanta. What it seems to me, though, is that the guy took what supplies of Coca Cola there were left and reserved them for the Nazis, but Coca Cola itself did not ship anything at all to Germany.
Further, this was wartime, and I doubt very much that Coca Cola, in the U.S., could have made anyone do anything in Germany under Hitler. This is an example of taking something that has a grain of truth in it and stretching it all out of proportions.
Coca Cola is not the only business to be hit in the book, though, as the author takes on Maidenform (bras) and says on page 55 that 'Maidenform, for example, exploited what is said was women's subconscious exhibitionist tendencies.'
In another example of why mention this is a book against Coca Cola, he notes on page 57 that the civil rights movement began at a Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, when four students demanded their right to be served a Coke.
He then takes on Coca Cola over the obesity problem. What he doesn't say is that, if people drank a reasonable amount of Coca Cola, they would not have a major weight gain. There are many factors involved in obesity, and soft drinks of all sorts are but one of those.
He notes that, when state governments would consider a bill that would not be beneficial to Coca Cola, they lobbied the state governments heavily. He doesn't both to point out that virtually every other business that feels they are threatened, or wants some kind of advantage, also lobbies the all levels of government. It may not be nice, and I, for one, would like to see lobbying done away with totally, but that's not going to happen.
Then the book talks about Latin America and how Coca Cola 'had a more than cozy relationship with paramilitary groups' (p. 184) that worked to break up unions and were involved in the murder of union leaders.
Then it talks about problems with Coca Cola plants in India and how they use up the groundwater, and pollute the environment. Then it talks about an anti-Coke organization called Killer Coke, and how they write about things Coca Cola has done in other countries.
It is likely that Coca Cola doesn't like unions since no big business does, really, since it takes away from the people running the business lining their own pockets with the profits. It would also not be surprising if Coca Cola was having problems with pollution and over use of water in India. However, that is something that could probably be proven about almost any big corporation working there or in any other developing country.
Does it make it right? No, but it's not just Coke doing things and that is an impression that this book gives. Further, Coca Cola has been trying to do at least some projects friendly to the environment and the society they are located in.
The problem with his arguments about South America, and how Coca Cola has been directly, or at least indirectly, involved in the murder of pro-union people is that at no time does he show that the main Coca Cola base in Atlanta knew or directed what was going on. Granted, it could have been the leaders there directing the anti-union efforts, including intimidation and killing, but it also could have been the bottlers themselves without the main Coca Cola base knowing what was being done.
There is just no direct evidence proving that the base in Atlanta knew what was going on. It should have, of course, but it's also possible that incompetency or efforts to cover up by officials in South America could also be the cause of what was going on without the main Coca Cola group knowing.
Thus, the book presents a fairly strong case against Coca Cola as far as polluting and overuse of natural resources goes in India, a weak case as far as how much the main Coca Cola group knew about what was going on in South America, and also tends to use a lot of smear arguments (Coca Cola and the Nazis, for example) that the author would use to discredit the company, yet is based on only partial truth (the Coca Cola being sold there being Coca Cola that was already physically there in Germany, for example).
The book raises questions, of course, and their web site at http://killercoke.org/ raises others, but still overlooks that there is a significant difference between accusation and proof.
Back to main index page