Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald's Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away

Ray Kroc, a paper cup and milkshake machine salesman from Chicago, became the force behind the lucrative franchising of McDonald's. When Kroc died in 1984, he left billions of dollars to his wife, Joan. Investigative journalist Lisa Napoli (Radio Shangri-La) sets out to understand shrewd and pushy Ray, and his strong-willed, opinionated third wife, Joan, who eventually gave away the bulk of the fortune her husband amassed.

Napoli details the struggles of hard-up brothers Mac and Dick McDonald, who fashioned a revolutionary roadside restaurant--with a simple menu and quick, assembly-line-style food preparation--in San Bernardino. Ray Kroc's milkshake machines were integral to their restaurant, and in 1954, Kroc suggested that the brothers expand their profitable business. This would launch one of the most complex business success stories in American history. Along the way, Napoli weaves in details of Kroc's personal life--his battle with alcoholism, two failed marriages--and his tumultuous romantic relationship with Joan, a liberal feminist.

In his lifetime, Ray started the Kroc Foundation, funding research on diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and Ronald McDonald Houses, which offer free housing for families with children undergoing medical treatment. After Ray's death--and for the next 19 years, until her own death--Joan contributed billions to a host of causes that touched her heart: AIDS research, Greenpeace, the Democratic party, the San Diego Zoo and National Public Radio. Napoli's well-researched, compelling portrayals of Ray and Joan Kroc shed light on a dynamic and influential couple whose generosity continues to improve a world where McDonald's is a household name. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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