Can social responsibility and capital accumulation coexist in the world of modern multinational corporations?  Trying to reconcile the two proved the undoing of immigrant entrepreneur and former rabbi, Eli Black, and the end of the most storied U.S. food corporation, United Fruit Company, in 1975.

Order your copy of ‘Eli and the Octopus’ now and embark on a captivating journey of one man’s quest to do good while doing business.

About The Book

Eli and the Octopus is a thought-provoking exploration of the complex relationship between United Fruit Company, Latin American governments, and the people of the region. Through extensive research and engaging storytelling, Professor Garcia delves into the ways in which the company’s actions shaped the modern world, highlighting important issues such as the responsibility of companies to their employees, shareholders, and the public.

The book also examines the role of unions since 1970 and the relationship between business and management in the era of mergers and acquisitions. These topics are timely and relevant, making Eli and the Octopus an ideal choice for opinion pieces in both the business and political spheres.

“As the beating heart of capitalism, New York City provided Eli the perfect vantage point to imagine this future, and his place within it.” (24)

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Order your copy of ‘Eli and the Octopus’ today and discover the truth behind the American dream.


“Eli and the Octopus is a deeply informed study of one of the most enigmatic figures to arise in the Mad Men era of merger mania and conglomerate-building. Beyond its inherent tragedy, this story adds richly to our understanding of how corporate America became what it is today.”

—Diana B. Henriques, author of The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust

“Piecing together the Shakespearean saga of rabbi-turned-business tycoon Eli Black, Matt Garcia offers a compelling, cautionary tale on the limits of corporate social responsibility. The unvarnished—but not unsympathetic—portrait is a history with great current relevance.”

-Miriam Pawel, author of The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography

“A marvelous book that embodies the inherent tension between our religious and ethical senses and the compromised and corrupt business of our daily lives. Eli Black’s rise and fall is but an exaggerated illumination of the human condition.”

—Nelson Lichtenstein, author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor

“A revelatory exploration of Eli Black and his struggle to remake modern business into a vehicle for positive social change. In a moment of growing inequality and corporate power, Eli and the Octopus could not be more timely or more important.”

—Karl Jacoby, author of The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire


I am a historian and farmer living on the ragged edge of eastern Vermont.  By day, I chair the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies Department at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; by every time else, I tend to a herd of cows and a flock of sheep at Taste for Good Farm.  These two passions come together in my writing, most recently, Eli and the Octopus:  The CEO Who Tried to Reform One of America’s Most Notorious Corporations (Harvard University Press, 2023). 

Matt Garcia

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Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share your thoughts on the vital issues raised in Eli and the Octopus. Order now and be ready to join the conversation.

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