To Russia with Fries

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McClelland & Stewart, Nov 13, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
You might think that an autobiography by the senior chairman of McDonald’s in Canada and Russia would be a modestly boastful, ho-hum business story of expansion and board-room debates, wrapped in some nice reminiscences about his family. You would be very wrong. Because this is George Cohon’s autobiography, and George Cohon (“Call me George, please!”) is not an ordinary man…not in his approach to business and not in his approach to telling his life story.

It’s true that George Cohon is one of the most successful businessmen of his generation and that he’s also one of the most colourful. But the man you’ll meet in the pages of To Russia With Fries is considerably more complex than that description suggests. Here, you’ll encounter a man who not only dreamed the impossible dream of opening a McDonald’s restaurant in the heart of the Soviet Union (of all places), but had the patience, the persistence, and above all the good humour to navigate the maze of obstacles set in his course by a scornful communist bureaucracy. You’ll meet a man whose heart is bigger than his assets (he’s donating all the royalties from this book to charity); a man with a serious sense of fun, who loves (and is frequently on the receiving end of) practical jokes; a man whose life so far has been extraordinary by any standard. You’ll discover a man who is a natural and creative entrepreneur and an acknowledged expert on starting a business in Russia. He’s been there and done that – long before the crash of the Iron Curtain.

From a man who can think and do six things at once (he’s been told he has a mind like a butterfly), comes a very lively and hugely entertaining story that has universal appeal.
 

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TO RUSSIA WITH FRIES

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The golden arches of McDonald's, resplendent in the dour precincts of Pushkin Square, are symbols of the triumph of capitalism. That Ronald McDonald cavorts in Nizhni Novgorod and St. Petersburg may ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

George Cohon, senior chairman and chairman of the executive committee of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada and senior chairman of McDonald’s Russia, was born in Chicago and emigrated to Canada in 1967 with his wife and their two young sons. He came to build McDonald’s in Eastern Canada, and he ended up opening more than a thousand restaurants across the country – and thirty more in the former Soviet Union.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Cohon has also received the Israel Prime Minister’s Medal (Israel’s highest public service award) and the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews Human Relations Award, among many other awards for his work on behalf of charity. He is also the founding patron of Ronald McDonald Houses and is founder of Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities in both Canada and Russia.

When he’s not in Moscow or St. Petersburg or up at his country home near Orangeville, Ontario. George Dohon lives in Toronto with his wife, Susan.

David MacFarlane is the author of the widely acclaimed book The Danger Tree, and of numerous award-winning feature articles in leading Canadian magazines, including Maclean’s and Toronto Life.

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