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Sunday, July 14, 2019

MILTON HERSHEY: MORE than CHOCOLATE: HEROES of HISTORY (audiobook) by Janet Benge and Geoff Benge

Published in 2015 by YWAM Publishing.
Read by Tim Gregory.
Duration: 4 hours, 55 minutes.

YWAM Publishing offers a series of biographies of Christian "heroes of history" aimed at home school students. The fact that this was part of series about "Christian" heroes was a surprise to me since this book didn't mention Hershey's faith at all. Nevertheless, this is an interesting and enjoyable biography of one of America's most successful businessmen, Milton Hershey (1857-1945).

This is a book showcasing the value of persistence. Starting with a failed attempt by his father in the oilfields of Pennsylvania in the late 1850's, the first half of this book is a series of business failures from Milton Hershey and his father, Henry.

Henry Hershey was more of a dreamer sort of entrepreneur - prone to rash decisions, excited by new technology and not very good on doing the follow up work to make sure that the venture succeeds. They traveled from Pennsylvania to Colorado to Louisiana, chasing the next big thing. Turns out that the next big thing was something that Milton Hershey learned from a baker in Colorado about how to make caramel that tastes better and stays fresh longer - milk.

So, Milton Hershey headed home to Pennsylvania and sets up his kitchen and everything just falls into place - except that it doesn't, at least not right away...

The stories of Hershey's struggles are by far more interesting than the story of his success. That being said, Hershey's commitment to charity once he became a success is extraordinary and worthy of note.

I did have one quibble. When it comes to the Hershey strike in 1937, the book doesn't really tell why some of the employees wanted to organize. Now, compared to most other places in the United States during the Great Depression, the workers in Hershey, Pennsylvania had it pretty well. Still, they had lost 1/3 of their hours per week and the workers that served as early union leaders were laid off, despite an agreement that they would not be.

The story is well told and well-read by the narrator, Tim Gregory. We listened to this book as a family on a vacation and found it interesting and were eager to start listening again as soon as we hit the highway.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: MILTON HERSHEY: MORE than CHOCOLATE: HEROES of HISTORY.

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