Book Review: 'Belching Out the Devil' by Mark Thomas

Sunday, July 12, 2009


By Mark Thomas

Nation. 364 pp. Paperback, $16.95

A less-than-hilarious BBC comedian turned self-styled "libertarian anarchist," Mark Thomas once offered a bounty for George W. Bush's head. But this time, in his imperfectly written exposé "Belching Out the Devil," he takes on a cause without term limits: the Coca-Cola Co.'s shameful unwillingness to investigate its anti-union, anti-environment bottlers. "Coca-Cola is the biggest brand in the world," Thomas writes, "[with] a greater reach than a flu virus." After reading about this British Michael Moore's misadventures in Colombia (where Coke ignored the murders of union organizers), India (where its factories are depleting the water table) and Mexico (where bottlers illegally refused to sell to bodegas that stocked competing brands), one will agree with Thomas's indictment without relishing his endless supply of cheesy one-liners. "I feel like I've been beaten up by pesto," Thomas says after receiving a basil purification rubdown in a Mayan community that drinks Coke to, ahem, burp and expel evil spirits. As journalism, "Belching Out the Devil" does for soda what Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" did for the hamburger. As comedy, it's less "Some Like It Hot" than "Police Academy 4."

-- Justin Moyer

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