Sweet and Low: A Family Story

Sweet and Low: A Family Story

by Rich Cohen
4.2 13

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Sweet and Low: A Family Story 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading and quite enjoying this book.  While I can live with the fact that it is more than a bit overwrought (presumably for effect) in the narrative), the editing in the Nook version is atrocious. Misspellings, missing words, errors in punctuation combine to distract and detract from what otherwise would be a riveting story.  It is disappointing, to say the least. Still and all, I intend to continue on with the story, unless and until the copy editing makes it impossible to do so.  
SOUTHERN-READING-WOMAN More than 1 year ago
Rich Cohen may have been part of the "issue" excluded from the Sweet and Low family fortune, but he is rich beyond dollars and cents because he possesses a beyond genius writing ability. How I settle in to his masterful handling of images of scenery, situations, and people. It's dipping into butter added movie popcorn and being carried along into the story playing out on the screen. He is a beautiful writer with a beautiful soul. Keep them coming, Mr. Rich Cohen, and I will keep reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about so much, sugar and Brooklyn, and legacy and invention. But, and here's what I loved, you peel all that back and what you have is the great human drama of a family growing up and growing apart. If you do not recognize your own family in these pages, you do not have your eyes open. Or you come from Leave it To Beaver land. In the end, you come away with a new sense of your family, and a new appreciation for the people in your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It is about the American dream, crazy relatives, lost fortunes, getting what you wish for, and the birth and death of familes. It is about everything. With wild asides and tremendous flashes of humor. I laughed (and cried) the whole way through. It's a perfect Christmas gift!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Are you interested in how family dynamics effect business? How family business effects families? How individual lives become infected with the family business dynamics? Rich Cohen has written a stunning account of his family¿s quite well known business, the Cumberland Packing Company which makes Sweet n Low, Sugar in the Raw, NuSalts and Butter Buds. Rich is a grand storyteller and this is the story of his family. It¿s a colorful family that Rich traces from the Patriarch¿s childhood through his death. Rich paints a picture of each person¿s peculiarities as seen from various family members yet stays focused on the life of the business and sad life of how various family conflicts were managed and tore them apart. The author¿s mother was excluded from inheriting her share of the business or any family assets. How could this happen? How could a family with hundreds of millions in assets decide not to give one nickel to one of the upstanding and successful children? This is where Rich begins the story and as he writes in the end of the introduction ¿To be disinherited is to be set free.¿ (p. xii) Through reading this manuscript, you will find yourself swept into the culture of this immigrant roots of the patriarch¿s family who was born in New York in 1906. You will learn the character of the family members and be taken through the critical decisions both in the business and the family up to the present day. Perhaps what¿s most interesting is the author¿s description of family dynamics. For example he writes ¿Betty (the wife of the patriarch) can marry well, support her mother and father, fill the world with children, and it¿s still not enough.¿ He explains that as a child no matter what Betty in her family, it was not enough to raise the depression of the family circumstances and how this may have impacted her character. Shortly after Marvin, the oldest son began working in the factory, he was given half the shares of the company. But of course there are two kinds of stock (Class A ¿ voting stock which is where the control and power is and Class B ¿ non-voting or common stock). Of course Marvin was given non-voting stock that way Ben (the patriarch) could give without giving. ¿This distribution mimics the dynamics of the family. Map the stock and you map the love.¿ (p. 78). Was this related to what happened in 1993 where Marvin was arrested and charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy? As a student and coach of family businesses for now close to twenty years. I can only say Halleluyah for an absolutely illuminating story of how families sometimes interact in business and how us professionals can help save or be a bridge for a healthy family and business.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This very unusual, literary corporate biography is written from a unique vantage point: Author Rich Cohen¿s family members are the protagonists. The corporate owners and inventors of Sweet¿N Low are his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. The other driving force here is the story itself, a thick syrup of invention, feuding, a loving family, criminal graft, federal investigation, Brooklyn, America¿s obsession with dieting and an immigrant saga. Since this is also the history of Cohen¿s relatives, he has unique insights into the motivations, emotions and feelings behind the corporate decisions that shaped how a fortune was made, disputed and distributed. The story, which flows loosely between time periods and subjects, is an excellent corporate biography, particularly when it covers the dangers of running a family business. The story has all the cinematic elements of a dark comedy. We recommend it to business and recreational readers for its interesting journalistic storytelling, and its insightful presentation of the family and corporate dynamics hidden inside that familiar little pink packet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is, unfortunately, a great story of several tragedies - the disintegration of a family and the degrading of a family business. Cohen does not seem to write with rancor, which would have been completely understandable under his circumstances. The treatment of his mother (and Cohen's siblings) by her selfish, loveless mother and obsessive, nasty father - to say nothing of her crackpot sister and mealy-mouthed brother, was atrocious. That mealy-mouthed brother's stewardship of what had been a great family business was equally as atrocious. Nasty people, great story.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
They say revenge is sweet. How about revenge is 'Sweet and Low,' a not very flattering account of family and fortune? Author Rich Cohen evidently had get-even in mind as he makes it plain that he doesn't much care for members of his family and he certainly didn't like being disinherited. Nonetheless, scandal and vitriol often add spice to the listen and this is the case with Cohen's narrative. His grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, began it all when he opened a diner across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Ever on the lookout for an opportunity, he saw the wisdom of putting sugar into little packets rather than having it sit in clogged glass table dispensers. As the tale goes, he pitched his brainstorm to a sugar company that claimed it as their own. Angry but undaunted Eisenstadt then came up with the idea for Sweet `N Low, which was offered initially as an aid for diabetics but soon swiped by diet crazed Americans. The family was in high cotton.......until studies linked saccharin to cancer. As they say, there goes the business. Or, as Cohen would say, 'Fourteen rats get cancer and nothing will ever be the same.' Once corruption was discovered within the company court battles ensued, Cohen's mother's side lost, and their names were whited out in wills. Cohen may be bitter but he's also a dandy writer ('Lake Effect' and 'Tough Jews'). His descriptions of family from the kind of woman 'who wanted you to think she never went to the bathroom' to Uncle Marvin who said to call him Uncle Marvelous are hilarious. The highs and lows of Sweet `N Low isn't exactly The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire but it is an interesting and often smile provoking listen. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rich Cohen is a dramatic storyteller who has written a book that is hard to put down. Ostensibly the story of immigrants in quest of the American dream, the health and diet crazes, the Boro of Brooklyn and how and why businesses fail, at it's core this is the story of the oddball family who came up with SWEET AND LOW and became very rich. Fortunately, the author, a former insider (referred to as an 'issue') was disenherited and set free, so we are able to get the real scoop. It's one hell of a story, well researched, immensely absorbing, rife with bizarre characters and above all, hilarious. WOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The only people who might not enjoy this book are those figured between its pages. It is a gripping story about America, the world of sugar and the striving classes, tamed in the end by chemicals. This IS the story of the twentieth century. A real page turner, and you'll learn something too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rich Cohen's book reads like some sort of oedipal nightmare the story of a wealthy author who is out to destroy his family after his grandmother leaves him out of his will. Mr. Cohen feels that he and his mother are entitled to money that they didn't work for. A complete and total waste of time. Recomended for other children of privledge who feel they are entitled to money simply for being born.