Eli and the Octopus: The CEO Who Tried to Reform One of the World’s Most Notorious Corporations

Written by:
Matt Garcia
Narrated by:
Adam Barr

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2023
8 hours 28 minutes
At 8 a.m. on February 3, 1975, Eli Black leapt to his death from the 44th floor of Manhattan's Pan Am building. The immigrant-turned-CEO of United Brands-formerly United Fruit, now Chiquita-Black seemed an embodiment of the American dream. United Brands was transformed under his leadership-from the 'octopus,' a nickname that captured the corrupt power the company had held over Latin American governments, to 'the most socially conscious company in the hemisphere.' How did it all go wrong?

Eli and the Octopus traces the rise and fall of a business leader and his influence on the nascent project of corporate social responsibility. Born Menashe Elihu Blachowitz in Poland, Black arrived in New York at the age of three and became a rabbi before entering the business world. Driven by the moral tenets of his faith, he charted a new course in industries known for poor treatment of workers, partnering with labor leaders to improve conditions. But risky investments, economic recession, and a costly wave of natural disasters led Black away from the path of reform and toward corrupt backroom dealing.

Matt Garcia presents an unvarnished portrait of Black's complicated legacy. Exploring the limits of corporate social responsibility on American life, Eli and the Octopus offers pointed lessons for those who hope to do good while doing business.
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