Chocolate Wars-Deborah Cadbury   Leave a comment

This was one of the books on my huge, ‘to be read’ pile; books I have acquired over the years as they looked interesting, which are now growing dusty and desperate as they wait to be read.

Deborah Cadbury, as a member of the family, is perfectly situated to write this non-fiction retelling of the struggles of the English Quaker families, particularly the Cadburys, to establish themselves as successful businesses during the 19th Century. I had previously read her book, Dinosaur Hunters, concerning the rivalry between early fossil hunters, which I had very much enjoyed. Cadbury is also well known for her 30 years of work in TV, much of it at the BBC, producing documentaries, for which she has received awards.

Chocolate Wars was published in 2010, and covers a period between 1861,when the Cadbury brothers, Richard and George inherited their father’s small chocolate drink business in Birmingham, which was losing money badly; and 2009 when the company was bought out by the conglomerate Kraft.

The phrase ‘Quaker Capitalism’ is coined in this book. Cadbury explains why so many Quakers, prohibited from politics, the law and the armed forces by their own rules, chose to go into business. She explains in detail how they attempted to apply altruism to their business dealings. It was these details that I personally found most interesting.

She goes into a lot of detail regarding the search for a machine to make milk chocolate, and later to the details of the Kraft buyout. Both subjects I was very unknowledgeable about. The need for changes, so that a travesty like this never recurs are spelt out in detail.

I was fascinated by the generosity and care the Cadburys showed to their staff during the late 19th century, and was interested to learn that Hershey attempted something similar in the USA, although without the religious convictions.

I had long respected the positive influence which Quaker industrialists had made in Britain during this time, but had not known all of the details.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone as a light, but interesting read.


Posted September 27, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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