Another non-fiction book recommend by Overdrive for Women’s History Month — and one I would recommend as well!
I think most people know that while McDonald’s was created as a roadside burger stand by two brothers named McDonald, that a man named Ray Kroc really turned it into the massive power that it remains today. This book tells the story of the McDonald brothers, and how Kroc sort of (okay, totally) bullied his way into their lives and business. It also tells the story of his great love: a woman named Joan, 26 years his junior, who originally had been married to a franchise owner. Ray and Joan had an on-again, off-again affair that eventually resulted in a tumultuous marriage — one in which she wielded his great fortune like a tool to help just about everyone she possibly could.
I enjoyed the history of McDonald’s — like how they only hired clean-cut military men at first because women were too distracting in the workplace. Ray Kroc sounds like a total asshole, but man did he believe in his vision. After his death in 1983, Joan took over his charity foundation and allowed others to run the corporation’s board. And then she just started giving money away — she created the Ronald McDonald houses, wrote checks to needy people across the world, helped animal shelters and civic centers and libraries. Most amazing of all, she kept a lot of it anonymous, which means most of her charitable deeds were unknown until her death in 2003.
It’s a well-written book about a couple of fascinating people. Long — but it just flies by like a novel. My main complaint is that the 3 main women in Kroc’s life — his 2nd and 3rd wives and his secretary — were named Jane, Joan and June! But it’s a great read, and I’m happy to know that the massive amount of money I’ve spent on their delicious diet cokes has done some good in the world.