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McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial
Synopses & Reviews
McLibel is the unlikely but true story of how a pamphlet called “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s?” led to the longest trial in British history. In what has become front-page news around the globe, the trial pitted the multibillion dollar corporation against five members of London Greenpeace accused by McDonald’s of libel. Three activists capitulated and apologized; two persevered.
McLibel tells the story of the “McLibel Two” and the two-and-a-half-year trial in which the jeans–clad and impoverished defendants represented themselves against the best powdered-wig lawyers McDonald’s could buy.
Does the fast-food chain exploit children? Depress wages? Level South and Central American rain forests? Subject its cattle and chicken to mass slaughters? A final chapter explores these allegations and details the $98,000 verdict against the activists Morris and Steel, which is widely viewed as a moral victory for the defendants and a public relations fiasco for McDonald’s.
Environmental reporter John Vidal covered all two and a half years of the trial. In the tradition of Michael Moore’s Roger and Me, he brings this David and Goliath story to life, shedding light on the corporate machinations of a secretive multinational company, the British legal system, and the implications for any individuals inclined to critique a $30-billion-a-year powerhouse.
Book News Annotation:
In this Goliath vs. David account, Vidal (environmental editor, London Guardian) recaps the longest trial (1994-96) in British history: a libel suit by McDonald's restaurants against five London Greenpeace members. Whether or not one agrees with the defendants' pamphlet charging that McDonald's exploits employees, animals, children, farmers, and rain forests, this is an enlightening case study of corporate power and an arcane legal system clashing with free speech rights. Two of the defendants furnished information for the book; the pyrrhic victor, McDonald's, did not.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Two environmentalists take on a multinational, multibillion-dollar-a-year corporation.
About the Author
John Vidal has been a journalist at the London Guardian for twelve years, as environmental editor for the past six years. He has twice won national Environment Journalist of the Year awards.
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