He founded the Cuyamel Fruit Company, and later became head of the United Fruit Company, the world's most influential fruit company at the time. They emigrated to the United States when he was 14, where he began selling excess bananas from the ports in New Orleans to grocers along the railways lines so they could be sold inland before they were spoiled. At that time, shiploads of bananas arrived in Alabama. The Banana Men is a study of modernization, its benefits, and its often frightful costs. Zemurray was also widely known in Central America for his philantropic works. Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray introduces the United States to the wonders of the banana and becomes the richest man in New Orleans. Rich Cohen is a superb storyteller. Sam Zemurray. He came to … He later added more land and found himself heavily in debt. Photo Illustration Chris Silas Neal; Associated Press (Zemurray) By Rich Cohen. They threw the ripe bananas into the bay. Which, according to Kinzer, is where Sam first immersed himself into geopolitics: Like many other American businessmen in Central America, Zemurray considered his land a private fiefdom. Today: Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray. By age 21, he had banked $100,000. Put them together and you have a startling and often hilarious account of one of the forgotten heroes (and villains) of the American empire.” —Zev Chafets Zemurray began life in Bessarabia and ended it as the de facto regent of South America. A new book about Sam “The Banana man” Zemurray reminds us of the meaning of untrammelled capitalism. Sam "the Banana Man" Zemurray, a Bessarabian Jewish immigrant, made a fortune in Honduran bananas after he got into the business of "revolutin," and his exploits are now legendary. In the late 1800s, at age 15, Sam Zemurray immigrated from Russia to Selma, Alabama, where he saw his first banana. “Sam ‘the Banana Man’ Zemurray was a larger-than-life character. In 1910, he bought 5,000 acres (20 km²) of land along the Cuyamel River. His success earned him the nickname “Sam the Banana Man.” By age twenty-one he had banked $100,000. The icon: Sam Zemurray. In the banana belt of the Caribbean he was first known as "Sam, the Banana Man," and then later as "the fish that swallowed the whale." This gave Sam an idea. He later bought a steamship and went to Honduras. He later bought a steamship and went to Honduras. The legacy: To paint a portrait of Sam Zemurray is to paint a portrait of the American dream. His success earned him the nickname "Sam the Banana Man." The colorful characters in this study are fascinating, if not always admirable. They loaded green bananas on trains bound for cities all across America. 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