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The Real Thing is a portrait of America’s most famous product and of the people who transformed it from mere soft drink to symbol of freedom. With fresh insights and a penetrating eye, New York Times reporter Constance L. Hays examines a century of Coca-Cola history through deft portraits of the charismatic, driven men who used luck, spin, and the open door of enterprise to turn a beverage with no nutritional value into a remedy, a refreshment, and an international object of consumer desire.
The rise of Coke is also a catalog of carbonation, soda fountains, dynastic bottling businesses, global expansion, and outsize promotional campaigns, not all of which succeeded. By examining relationships at every level of the company, Hays reveals the psyche of a great American corporation–and also tells a larger story about business and this nation’s culture.