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For God, Country & Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It
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For God, Country & Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  519 ratings  ·  58 reviews
For God, Country and Coca-Cola is the definitive history of the great American soft drink and the company that makes it. From its origins as a patent medicine in Reconstruction Atlanta through its rise as the dominant consumer beverage of the 21st century, the story of Coke is as unique, tasty, and effervescent as the drink itself. With vivid portraits of the entrepreneurs ...more
Paperback, 664 pages
Published March 17th 2000 by Basic Books (first published September 21st 1993)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  519 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In the late nineteenth century, cocaine was considered a wonder
drug. Heralded by medical journals, pharmacists, Freud and even several Popes - Pope Leo III was a regular imbiber of Vin Mariani, a wine created in 1863 that contained 2.16 grains of cocaine, in the recommended dose of six glasses per day. No doubt he felt very holy indeed, and his long life and "all-radiant" eyes were probably less due to his piety than his daily dose of this "healthful" and "life-sustaining" drug that had been so
Mikey B.

Coca-Cola has to be the world’s most ubiquitous icon – the most advertised commodity on the planet.

Page 124 (my book)
If the dividends from that one original 1919 share had been re-invested in Coco-Cola stock, which had split eleven times thus far, the $40 investment would be worth approximately $9.8 million by 2012. Using the same scale, if a forebear had purchased one of Asa’s [first CEO] $100 shares in 1892, it would bring approximately $8.6 billion.

There are many interesting facts and tidbits
Ben Babcock
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So one day I was looking for some advertisements I could use with my English classes to discuss graphic texts and advertising strategies. I stumbled across Vintage Ad Browser's repository of Coca-Cola advertisements, and I was just captivated. It had never occurred to me before that Coca-Cola provides a perfect opportunity to chart the evolution of advertising over the course of more than a century. I pulled many ads through the decades to use with my class, and as we discussed the popularity of ...more
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I read the coffee book ("Uncommon Grounds") by the same author a couple of years prior and "saved up" this book for a later treat. Clearly, I liked the first book and it fit in thematically with other books I was reading at the time on different drinks and liquids.

In this book, Pendergrast attempts to answer the questions of what's in the classic formula, does it have cocaine, or did it ever, and how in the world did they get it so wrong with "New Coke". But overall, this is a fascinating tale o
Barry Simiana
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good book. BIG book. A long read, at times a little stuffy but inside you get to know the names behind Coca Cola and the people who drove it from a medicine to the most popular(?) sof drink in the world. Oh yeah, you also get the "secret" recipe, but at least one of the ingredients may as well be named "Unobtainium".
As an aside, yes, there used to be cocaine in the mix but it was phased out 50 years ago, but there is still coca (big difference).
Some great anecdotes from people inside the organis
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is WAY too long, gives WAY too much information, offers WAY too much detail and it is easy to get bored and lose interest, especially in the last third section of the book. The book would have been been a lot more fun to read if it was 25-30% shorter and didn't include a lot of details no one cares about.
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
in a sense, politics means corporate rule in action. wonderful descriptions on one of the most powerful corporate in the world
Joe Hempel
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has videos and images and can be seen at

When you think of Coca-Cola today you probably think about how it’s said a 6-pack can take the rust of a carburetor, or how soda in general is the cause of most of the overweight issues in people today. Once upon a time though, Coca-Cola was an American icon. Still, I look back at the history of Coca-Cola and see scenes of days gone by when times were simpler and the smooth refreshing taste could change your day. For God
Ramiro Ramos
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
¿Nos tomamos una Coca? Así decíamos de jóvenes para platicar algún tema de interés el grupo de amigos, melancolía de aquel tiempo me inpulsa a saber la historia de ran afamada bebida, un recorrido por la historia y el crecimiento de una oportunidad... Las ironías de la vida mientras lo leí no tome más que café.
Caleb Wilson
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The only comparison to this that I can make is Citizen Coke, which, even then isn’t really a fair comparison. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself wanting to learn about the history of Coca Cola, in all its infamy, this is a great book.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Detailed and so tedious but an important perspective on three American centuries, including business and international law history, through surprising moments and the evolution of a religious zealotry
Sachin Bhatia
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do you want to understand how brands are created? What does it mean to work for a "corporate"? These days everything is a start up guide...
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this- as someone who has drunk a lot of Coca Cola in the past, that is. The book was heavy going (literally) and very long- longer than I think it needed to be.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When you talk to young people in the US, many have a negative image of Coca-Cola (in contrast to a brand like Starbucks). This is unfortunate, because Coca-Cola is a tasty product, with a rich history. You don't have to drink one every day.

The miracle of Coca-Cola is that there always one close at hand. Anyone that has visited small towns in the least developed or remotest countries in the world, can appreciate the fact that there is almost always a vendor of this beverage, and quite often it is
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This is not a literary book, but rather a long, detailed chronicle of Coca-Cola's corporate history. It's fascinating enough, though I found myself reading very quickly over substantial portions of the book that interested me less than others. I will say Pendergrast's powers of journalism are profound; I believe he worked on this history for decades before publishing the first edition.

This is not just a story of Coca-cola, though. Like Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, the subject merely prov
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I now love Coke more than I thought possible. I also now heavily analyze Coke ads.
Michael Greenwell
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this book's sense of adventure, and appreciate the author's interest and sincerity. I think he manages to offer a fair depiction of the company, although he sometimes seems to be parroting a bit too much of the company's propaganda without thorough critical analysis. My favourite parts of the novel are when Pendergrast show The Coca-Cola Company in context with the world around it, and contrasts its evolution with changes in society, either in America or other countries.

I wish that there
Laura Little
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Buying a Kindle finally facilitated completing this behemoth unofficial company history.

Growing up in the South, Coca-Cola for me had an almost mythic quality-- a Pepsi can, as far as I'm aware, never entered my childhood homes. Thus it was with pleasure I picked up Pendergrast's dense read exploring the minutae of the company's story, from morphine-addicted chemist John Pemberton's creation of the original formula up through nearly present-day. Rare is the product that has been such an indelib
Joseph II
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
When starting out in the stock market, I knew that Coca Cola had to be in my portfolio. Warren Buffett enjoys a Coke every day, and other large organizations have huge percentages of Coke stock to balance out their income generating stocks. The red and white swirly font is one of the most recognizable images around the world - from the streets of New York, to the villages of Africa. But being a savvy investor, I wanted to know more about the company and the product before I put my money in. Mark ...more
Jan 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Entertaining unofficial corporate history of Coke. We follow one of the most influential companies in U.S. history throughout it's ups and downs. It is fascinating how much Coke effects popular thoughts about modern life from the 1880's.

Details: The book is strongest detailing the early Coca-Cola from the 19th Century through the War. The growth from a late entry as a patent medicine to the first mass advertiser is fascinating. The way the company thrived during the Great Depression and the War
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Readable history of the company from its founding to the end of the 20th century. The author is careful to show the growth of the business in detailed metrics, but also takes time to explain the thinking behind the advertisers' campaigns, the always-contentious relationship with the bottlers, and the delicate balancing act between a foreign country's customs and the drive to make everyone everywhere drink nothing but Coke.

I was really looking forward to a behind-the-scenes story on the New Coke
Duane Donecker
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book last semester in my History Of The United States 1 class last year. Some of my fellow students thought I was joking when I announced in class that this book and Coca Cola was going to be the subject of my final paper at the end of the semester, and I was a bit worried about what the reaction of our professor wojld be. The professor it turnes out loved the idea and then as I began to read and research my paper I became plesantly suprised and amazed by how much of a role a "simple ...more
Justin Gerhardstein
Mar 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
This book serves its purpose, which is to tell the CocaCola story. Coca-Cola is of course a great example of an American success story that is attributed to pioneering globalization and mass-marketing to every facet of the world. This book tells of the crazy workers that literally made Coca-Cola their life, starting plants in Germany during WWII and finding new ways to market the American product to anti-American countries and in some cases, supplying a product that is a more stable form of curr ...more
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Coke addicts, etc
Shelves: history
What I learned hum.....
John Pemperton made Coca-Cola as a medicine & was addicted to morphine.
Pepsi tried to sell out to Coke 3 times in it's early years.
CEO Woodruff didn't approve of adding flavors to Coke. He believed it could stand on it's own feet.
Iceland drinks the most Coca-Cola per capita annually.
The New Coke wreck in the 1980s worked out for the company as least partly cause they remade the orginal formula (& renamed the original Coca-Cola classic). It also got it so that they
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This could be "Everything You Didn't Know About Coca-Cola, and Never Thought of Asking". Did you know that in the early days, a customer who wanted the drink was likely to ask for a "dope", to the exasperation of President Asa Candler? (And D.W. Griffith made a movie denouncing the menace.) That Marshal Zhukov made a deal with Allied Military Government to supply him with Coca-Cola -- but only if they took the color out, so it would not LOOK like he was enjoying the capitalist drink?

This master
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very comprehensive history of the coca-cola company and indirectly, of American consumerism.

Interesting to note:
American love for sugar water
The soda fountain culture of old
The quack concoctions of old
the ability to do new things due to no cultural and religious baggage (unlike Europe, Asia)
The command that Woodruff had
The accidental discovery of how people loved the idea of coke more than the drink itself
Bad luck, and the cultural rot in the company of the 90s and 2000s - in addition to the c
J.S. Green
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-culture
In a nutshell: the history of Coca-Cola, with some really good information on the cola industry as a whole. Well-researched, and well-written, I enjoyed this book. It was especially interesting to see the honesty in regard to the cocaine and caffeine content issues that Coke had to deal with, and later the "New Coke" fiasco. It's long and not an especially fast-paced book. The people involved certainly aren't very likeable, but the author does a good job of putting everything into a proper histo ...more
Bill G
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved Coca Cola. But after this book, I became passionate about it.
Now when I go to restaurants that serve Pepsi, I get water. This book gets down to the nitty gritty of what it took to make Coca Cola what it is today.
It doesn't hold back, from it's cocaine beginnings to Pemberton's addictions, it's all there.
Read this if you are interested in the history of how a company runs, or you love Coca Cola, or if you are just interested in history.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: corporate-ghosts
in 1904 four lawyers bought from asa candler the rights to bottle coca cola in perpetuity, hence the existence of the coca cola bottling companies vs. the coca cola company of atlanta. candler, though a visionary, only saw coke coming from a fountain over ice, he never saw commercial/consumer refrigeration coming. he thought they were crazy the lawyers and, of course, they weren't.

Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic read. Mark Pendergrast does a wonderful job of capturing the varying views of Coca-Cola since its inception. Very well-balanced and well researched, Pendergrast opens the cap of the bottle and lets the "secrets" flow. I would recommend this book if you have an interest in Coke or in how businesses evolve.
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Mark Pendergrast was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, the fourth of seven children in a family that valued civil rights, the environment, sailing, reading, and games of chase and charades. He earned a B.A. in English literature from Harvard, taught high school and elementary school, then went back to Simmons College for a masters in library science and worked as an academic librarian—all the w ...more