A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola

A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola

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by Ricardo Cortes
     
 

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VERY SHORT LIST chose A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola for the #1 Spot on their November 16 Food E-mail

A Brain Pickings Favorite Food Book of 2012 and one of their Best Graphic Novels & Graphic Nonfiction of 2012

Featured in Columbia College Today's Bookshelf section

"A straight forward and accessible

Overview


VERY SHORT LIST chose A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola for the #1 Spot on their November 16 Food E-mail

A Brain Pickings Favorite Food Book of 2012 and one of their Best Graphic Novels & Graphic Nonfiction of 2012

Featured in Columbia College Today's Bookshelf section

"A straight forward and accessible text…Cortés’ highly detailed paintings call up concomitant issues and famous faces as well…In dense passages describing political payments between corporate interests and federal narcotics officials, the reproduction–in Cortés’ deft watercolors–of memos, official letters, and newspaper articles serves as an indictment of the rule of law with loopholes for the profit minded. This is an excellent introduction to the complexities of 'American interests,' the realities of corrupt rationale invoked in the pursuit of world health, and the need to take a longer view than the immediate to see how substance and substance abuse both share space and operate on different planes. Right and wrong are not black and white but form a gray of varying shades."
--Library Journal

“If you hate the War on Drugs, Ricardo Cortés should be one of your favorite illustrators.”
--Vice

“Astonishingly addictive and intoxicatingly revelatory, ...Coffee, Coca & Cola offers an impressively open-minded history lesson and an incredible look at the dark underbelly of American Capitalism . . . A stunning, hard cover coffee-table book for concerned adults, this captivating chronicle is a true treasure.”
--Comics Review (UK)

“This fascinating and beautifully illustrated piece of visual journalism . . . is as thoroughly researched and absorbingly narrated as it is charmingly illustrated.”
--Brain Pickings

"Any food and culinary history holding will find this a lively survey!"
--The Midwest Book Review

A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola is an illustrated book disclosing new research in the coca leaf trade conducted by The Coca-Cola Company. 2011 marked the 125th anniversary of its iconic beverage, and the fiftieth anniversary of the international drug control treaty that allows Coca-Cola exclusive access to the coca plant. Most people are familiar with tales of cocaine being an early ingredient of "Coke" tonic; it's an era the company makes every effort to bury. Yet coca leaf, the source of cocaine which has been banned in the U.S. since 1914, has been part of Coca-Cola's secret formula for over one hundred years.

This is a history that spans from cocaine factories in Peru, to secret experiments at the University of Hawaii, to the personal files of U.S. Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger (infamous for his "Reefer Madness" campaign against marijuana, lesser known as a long-time collaborator of The Coca-Cola Company).

A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola tells how one of the biggest companies in the world bypasses an international ban on coca. The book also explores histories of three of the most consumed substances on earth, revealing connections between seemingly disparate icons of modern culture: caffeine, cocaine, and Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink on earth, and soft drinks are the number one food consumed in the American diet. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive substance. Cocaine . . . well, people seem to like reading about cocaine. An illustrated chronicle that will appeal to fans of food and drink histories (e.g., Mark Kurlansky's Salt and Cod; Mark Pendergrast's For God, Country & Coca-Cola), graphic novel enthusiasts, and people interested in drug prohibition and international narcopolitics, the book follows in the footsteps of successful pop-history books such as Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation—but has a unique style that blends such histories with narrative illustration and influences from Norman Rockwell to Art Spiegelman.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola...is actually a serious and measured chronology of the storied history of these human beverages, accessible to readers of all ages…A sober, serious, yet eminently readable examination of thorny social issues surrounding everyday beverages, A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola is highly recommended.
--Midwest Book Review

"If you have ever wondered about the coca in Coca-Cola, the caffeine in coffee, or the irrational pharmacological prejudices in our drug laws, this charmingly eccentric combination of detailed historical research and child-friendly drawings is worth your attention. [A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola] is easily digested and full of interesting details about how psychoactive substance come to be accepted or rejected."
--Reason Magazine

“Cortes' presentation is not the typical dense, non-fiction work, but a highly illustrated one, where emotions and impact are present in brief graphical terms, dancing with the harder history, and with a meticulous bibliography.”
--North Adams Transcript

“It’s impressive how much information Cortés is able to include . . . His illustrations are beautiful, detail-rich colored pencil and pen drawings, and his hand-lettering of typed documents is fantastic.”
--Persephone Magazine

“Cortes' latest, A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola, uses a combination of gritty, mural-like illustrations and painstaking investigative research to explore the relationship between three of the most famous stimulants of all time: coffee, coca leaves (from which cocaine is an alkaloid derivative) and Coca-Cola.”
--Metro

"Cortés gained popular stature last year with his sweetly counterpoint art in satiric Go the F**k to Sleep. That’s part of his genius: giving the eye important information barely hinted at in the text...[T]he paintings themselves delve more deeply into the facts that the nonfiction text addresses."
--School Library Journal blog

"This book is an incredible work of artistic journalism. Armed with color pencils and an eye for detail, Cortés has produced a beautiful and subversive history of how that bottle of Coke ended up in your fridge. Cortés weaves his people's history with meticulously and gorgeously crafted drawings--many of them recreations of the primary documents he uses to tell his story. The end product is a damning, epic tale of hypocrisy: while the US government leads the charge to criminalize the 10 million people who chew coca, it has simultaneously conspired with a multinational beverage giant to ensure an endless supply of coca to fuel its profits."
--Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

"Ricardo Cortés has unearthed documentation of the astonishingly cozy historical relationship between Coca-Cola executives and antidrug czars, along with coverage of the expensive and unwinnable war on drugs."
--Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country & Coca-Cola and Uncommon Grounds

"As works of art, Cortés's illustrations are stunning and intricate. As reportage, the book is obsessive in all the right ways, nailing down hidden facts to reveal a truth I never would have expected. It is rare to find serious reportage that reads like a novel; Cortés has pulled off the mind-boggling trick of making it read like a children's book."
--Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating

"A nicely illustrated bit of history about three plants and the fascinating story of people's relationships with them."
--Dr. Andrew Weil, author of From Chocolate to Morphine and The Natural Mind

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781617751349
Publisher:
Akashic Books
Publication date:
12/04/2012
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.30(d)

Meet the Author

Ricardo Cortés is best known for illustrating the number one New York Times best-selling Go the Fuck to Sleep and the G-rated follow-up Seriously, Just Go to Sleep. Cortés first gained notoriety after his debut It's Just a Plant: A Children's Book about Marijuana sparked controversy from The O'Reilly Factor to Capitol Hill. He has illustrated books about electricity, the Jamaican bobsled team, and jury nullification; his work has been featured in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, New York Post, The Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, and on CNN and FOX News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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