Ray & Joan is a quintessentially American tale of corporate intrigue and private passion: a struggling Mad Men-era salesman with a vision for a fast-food franchise that would become one of the world's most enduring brands and a beautiful woman willing to risk her marriage and her reputation to promote controversial causes that touched her deeply.
Ray Kroc was peddling franchises around the country for a fledgling hamburger stand in the 1950s - McDonald's, it was called - when he entered a St. Paul supper club and encountered a beautiful young piano player who would change his life forever. The attraction between Ray and Joan was instantaneous and instantly problematic. Yet even the fact that both were married to other people couldn't derail their roller coaster of a romance.
To the outside world, Ray and Joan were happy, enormously rich, and giving. But privately Joan was growing troubled over Ray's temper and dark secret, something she was reluctant to publicly reveal. Those close to them compared their relationship to that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And yet this volatility paved the way for Joan's transformation into one of the greatest philanthropists of our time. A force in the peace movement, she produced activist films, books, and music and ultimately gave away billions of dollars, including landmark gifts to the Salvation Army and NPR.
Together, the two stories form a compelling portrait of the 20th century: a story of big business, big love, and big giving.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kathleen S. on 30-11-16
I enjoyed learning about McDonald's.
The story was well told. There is so many interesting people and events that came together to make this empire. I will never look at the Golden Arches the second again.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Shelly Dee on 06-07-17
Great as author; as narrator not so much
I saw this author on Book TV which prompted me to get this book. Napoli was great on the TV interview, but as a reader it's a chore to listen to her. I am hanging in because it IS an interesting story, but her manner of speaking is like chalk on a blackboard (not sure of digital equivalent). It sounds to me like a cross between somebody reading to elementary school children (I can picture them sitting in a semi-circle) and the local gossip breathlessly whispering her latest news.
I'm on chapter 6 now and hope I will be able to finish -- it may be a 5-star book, but for now it's a 4.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful