• Fast Food Nation

  • The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
  • By: Eric Schlosser
  • Narrated by: Rick Adamson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (1,998 ratings)

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Fast Food Nation  By  cover art

Fast Food Nation

By: Eric Schlosser
Narrated by: Rick Adamson
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Publisher's Summary

To a degree both engrossing and alarming, the story of fast food is the story of postwar America. Though created by a handful of mavericks, the fast food industry has triggered the homogenization of our society. Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled the juggernaut of American cultural imperialism abroad. That's a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning.

Schlosser's myth-shattering survey stretches from the California subdivisions where the business was born to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike where many of fast food's flavors are concocted. He hangs out with the teenagers who make the restaurants run and communes with those unlucky enough to hold America's most dangerous job - meatpacker. He travels to Las Vegas for a giddily surreal franchisers' convention where Mikhail Gorbachev delivers the keynote address. He even ventures to England and Germany to clock the rate at which those countries are becoming fast food nations.

Fast Food Nation is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats.

©2001 by Eric Schlosser
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.
Random House Audible, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Non-Fiction, 2002

"... a fierce indictment of the fast food industry." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about Fast Food Nation

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Uncritical alarmist rant

Don't be misled into thinking, as I did, that this book would offer a critical, well-reasoned, and empirically supported analysis of the fast food industry. It is an alarmist rant about nutrition, capitalism, suburban sprawl, the influence of big business in politics, urban blight, and other loosely connected themes, sprinkled with a twist of conspiracy theory. (Did you know that Walt Disney and Ray Kroc were in the same ambulance unit in WWII? Coincidence? This book thinks not.)

The author's commentary on the implications of our "fast food nation" is so frustratingly blind to counterarguments that I found myself ranting back at my iPod. For example, the book declares with apparent horror that 85% (or something like that) of the job opportunities created for teenagers in the last two decades were in fast food restaurants, and those jobs only pay MINIMUM WAGE. OK....but were these teenagers going to get higher paying jobs if the fast food industry had not grown? Or would they simply have been unemployed, or employed in other, more dangerous minimum wage jobs? I don't know, but the answer certainly is not in this book.

I should add, too, that the reader in this recording has the grating habit of imparting melodramatic stress to a word or phrase in nearly every sentence (or so it seemed). The combination of this performance and the author's absurdly simplistic analysis was unbearable. I finished only about 3/4 of the book before I couldn't take it any more and deleted the whole recording.

88 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What an awesome book

What an awesome book. If I had the choice I'd make this a mandatory read for every health class in high school and any other class that would be able to work it into their curriculum.

This is a must read for every American adult because I know it has changed my political and health views forever.

Very nice work Eric!!!

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

enjoyable simply because it is so very disturbing

This is a powerfully thought provoking book. It is enjoyable simply because it is so very disturbing. As a high-school teacher I found the information relating to the necessity of a large uneducated workforce enlightening. Also, the detailed examples about food processing and taste are well...thought provoking. And, the information about the aggressive campaigning for ever younger customers has lead my wife and I into many discussions about the amount of television and fast food we are willing to let our children consume.
I am critical of the author's biased approach to the material, but he clearly states his agenda at both the beginning and end of the book; so the material can be read with the knowledge that this book is a prosecution of the industry with no real defense.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

A problem narrator

My comment is not about the writing in this book, which other readers have exhaustively discussed, but about the narration. I'm a writer, and I've been listening to audio books for twenty-five years, hundreds of them, and love the experience of being read to. Most narrators are at least pretty good; they have a relaxed, informal reading style that gets out of the way and lets the words of the author take you where the author intended. This is the first audiobook I've encountered which does violence to this principle. The reading style here is like a TV infomercial. That is, the narrator PUNCHES his words for EMPHASIS in every SENTENCE of EVERY PARAGRAPH, and BOY! is it IRRITATING! It's as if he DOESN'T TRUST the listener to REACH THE RIGHT CONCLUSIONS and must CAJOLE and MANIPULATE every step of the way! It's KIND OF like an ACTOR who CHEWS the SCENERY, MUGS, and ALTERS the pitch, tone and VOLUME of his voice into something UNNATURAL and ROBOTIC to indicate what the audience should be experiencing.

The result of this pummeling left me weary and jittery. The book was a chore to get through, as it left no room for the author or the listener: it was all about the narrator, who told me what to think and when to think it, robbing me of the chief joy of reading. Granted, the book is a piece of muckraking journalism, but can't I discover that for myself? The narrator and producer of this travesty have ill served the author, and should be severly flogged, as they have flogged others.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Narration style is bizarre!

The narration style is very distracting. Every sentence is inflected as if it were the MOST AMAZING THING EVER! This narrator would do wonderfully with stories about unicorns and magical lands. Social commentary, not so much.

The text itself is great, though.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Not Just About Mcdonald's

Some of the reviewers focus on the one-sided bashing of the food industry. Clearly the author is not a fan of fast food, slaughterhouses, lack of government regulation in this area and other things.

If that's all someone got of this book then the point was sorely missed.

First of all - what the author says is true. He is far from the only writer to point out the fact that the well being of Americans is NOT high on the priority list for the beef industry. Robin Cook, author of best sellers such as COMA, wrote about this very subject in his novel TOXIN. The fact is that slaughterhouses are terrible, unsafe places where abused workers are routinely injured and the meat they produce can be very unsafe.

Beyond that, however, the book is a fascinating chronicle of the evolution of an industry that has changed the world over the last 50 years. Maybe it's not quite as dismal as the author says but it certainly is different.

The consolidation of farming and ranching to the point where the number of independent potato farmers, chicken growers, cattle ranchers, slaughterhouses has dwindled to a microscopic fraction in the last 50 years is a staggering fact.

The fact that rental income from franchisees is the primary revenue stream for McDonald's is mind boggling. How much better definition of irony is there than to learn that food is almost secondary to one of the world's biggest sellers of food.

The story of how Ray Croc stumbled on the Macdonald brothers because they wanted a few extra mixmasters is compelling.

There's so much education in this book and if you have the intellect to filter out some of the bias of the author it's a great, great book.

The bias is clearly there but it absolutely does not get in the way of this being an outstanding way to learn some very interesting stuff.

Back to the original point - bias aside - this audio will raise your awareness of some issues that we can't continue to ignore.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Should be required reading for all

I have been using this book as required supplemental reading in my economics classes at a community college for two years. I am deeply grateful to Schlosser's exposure of the targeting of children to "weapons of mass obesity" and the contribution of the fast food industry to the destruction of our health. His section "kids as customers" shows students how effectively the marketing of these products has driven the demand for these "supersized" meals. The discussions of working conditions in both the fast food and meatpacking industry is a clear warning of how our jobs are being de-skilled, automated away, and our standards of living ratcheted down in our post-industrial society. If anyone thinks Schlosser is biased, they ought to be grateful that someone is so dedicated to supporting efforts to save our lives, workplaces, and environment from the "greed is good" mentality of the Gordon Gekkos who have taken over our corporations. I implore people to see "Supersize Me" as well as read this book. I hope that Schlosser's next project is about Wal-Mart.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Bought the audio book to follow the actual book

Bought the audio book to follow the actual book but found out the audio book is UNRECOGNIZABLE from the actual book. It is so different I have no idea how this was allowed. Or I have the chapters wrong but that would mean that the chapters are all labeled wrong

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

liberalism spoils food

The book is enlightening, I especially enjoyed the history of the the fast food industry and the humble beginnings of the now super giants of the industry (McDonalds, Carl's Jr., etc). Although the author presents a biased view of the industry and it's ills. He presents the companies within the industry as evil corporations. His slanted view of the companies and how they reign with tyranny over the average american worker is very slanted. His liberal views of larger government, more regulations, and handouts to the labor force is enough to spoil the whole book.
The history of the industry is entertaining, the author's liberal views on how to solve the problems is hard to swallow and sometimes makes you sick...

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Germs, Complacency and Fast Food

This book truly reminds you of the need for instant gratification our society cultivates and the price (which we rarely investigate) that need wreaks on our lives. An eye-opening book that calls into question the ethics of capitalism gone wild and the complacency of our consumerism gone out to pasture- who is running the show here? Essentially, we're much like those doe-eyed cows going into slaughter- never questioning the product or the production. Kudos to the author- this book was informative, well-written and provocative.

7 people found this helpful