What could be more benign (predictably bland, digestible, uniform, and pest- and blemish-free) yet fraught with sinister undercurrents (military coups, massacres, corruption, and pesticide poisonings) than the ubiquitous banana? First World consumers may know one side of the cultural history of the banana—comical jingles and Carmen Miranda—but are usually blissfully unaware of how Pablo Neruda, Miguel Angel Asturias, or even Gabriel García Márquez used the fruit to evoke exploitation and death.

In the past decade and a half, the banana industry has inspired an outpouring of new scholarship, almost all of it focusing on a single country or region. These studies have appropriately emphasized global aspects of the banana industry and include political, social, and cultural history. Yet not until Steve Striffler and Mark Moberg’s Banana Wars has a single volume invited readers to engage with the entire global system of banana production...

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