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


The  dramatic  relationship between Ray Kroc, the man who amassed a fortune as chairman of one of America’s most controversial and iconic companies—McDonald’s—and the passionate woman, his wife, Joan, who then gave that fortune away.

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 twentieth century: a story of big business, big love, and big giving.

Title:Ray & Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald's Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:368 pages

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

  • Sam Sattler
    Dec 26, 2016

    Lisa Napoli’s dual biography of Ray and Joan Kroc is a detailed account of the lives of two people who turned out to be a whole lot more fascinating than I expected they would be. Admittedly, Ray an...

  • Viviane Crystal
    Nov 16, 2016

    Ray Kroc, the founder of the world-wide famous McDonald stores, began with little money but a large imagination. Lisa Napoli has given the reader a fascinating look at how this mega-business began. No...

  • Debbie Krenzer
    Nov 08, 2016

    This was quite an interesting book. I learned a lot that I did not know. I knew that Ray Kroc had bought out the brothers and started McDonald's, but I didn't know exactly how it happened. I'm still n...

  • Ann
    Jan 07, 2017

    I found this book interesting since I didn't know anything about Ray or Joan Kroc. The first part of the book focused mainly on Ray Kroc who founded the McDonalds empire. The second half of the book l...

  • Geoff
    Jan 07, 2017

    My Recommendation: This was a very interesting read and surprisingly quick for a biography. I really enjoyed the philanthropic aspect of Joan’s post-Ray life. I find it very interesting that Napoli ...

  • Liz
    Jan 05, 2017

    Loved this book. It's really two biographies (three if corporations are "people"). Ray Kroc is the founder of McDonald's; Joan is his widow. The book tells of the development of the fast food chain Ra...

  • Bill Yeadon
    Jan 18, 2017

    I haven't read any books on the history of McDonald's and only have a cursory knowledge of the actual founders the brothers McDonald. While many people thought they were shafted they actually had crea...

  • John
    Jan 07, 2017

    I really liked it. In particular, I loved reading about how Joan was lead by her passion for being of service, once she had access to the vast McDonalds fortune. Raging alcoholic Ray Kroc couldn't sur...

  • Gerard Villegas
    Nov 04, 2016

    For those that don't know Ray and Joan Kroc, they were considered the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton of the business world. Ray, a multi-billionaire from his ownership of the McDonald's chain and...

  • Mary
    Dec 12, 2016

    It was fun to read this book because it was totally out of my usual sphere of reading choices. It was fascinating to read about how Ray Kroc made the McDonald's franchises operate so smoothly. It was ...

About Lisa Napoli

Lisa Napoli

Author, Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on EarthCrown, February 2011(Paperback: Broadway Books, April, 2012)Lisa Napoli is a journalist who has worked in all media. She began her career at CNN in Atlanta in the early eighties, worked in local TV news in North Carolina, covered the Clinton campaign and Waco standoff as a field producer for an early iteration of the