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Gretchen Cherington

The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy-A Family Memoir of Scandal and Greed in the Meat Industry

November 2, 2023
4 PM PDT | 5 PM MDT | 6 PM CDT | 7 PM EDT


I call my second book a true crime, investigative memoir and it’s been picked up in memoir, history, and true crime spaces.

In 1922, GEORGE A. HORMEL—founder of today’s multibillion-dollar company Hormel Foods—forced the resignation of my paternal grandfather, Alpha LaRue Eberhart, after a decade-long embezzlement scandal that nearly brought the company to its knees.

But was my grandfather complicit, as company rumor suggested?

I needed to dig deep to understand what really happened one hundred years ago, while weaving the histories of George Hormel, my grandfather, and Ransome Thomson, the company comptroller, turned embezzler, within the sweeping landscape of our country’s early industries.

I brought to this work my insights about business leaders gleaned from a forty-year career advising top executives, while contending with my own blind faith in family mythology that had captivated me since I was a child. This is a multilayered exploration about the mythology of powerful men, our reverence for heroes, and reconciling our complicated pasts.

Kirkus called it: “A dazzling account that deftly combines crime, drama, history, and introspective remembrance…a mesmerizing story, one filled with drama and suspense and told with remarkable emotional insights.”

Midwest Book Review said: “A seminal and ground-breaking history of a major American company…an extraordinary and meticulously researched study that is unreservedly recommended.”

What members will gain from our conversation:

  • The writer’s challenge when writing about a global brand and famous people
  • Creating full-bodied characters out of people we never knew
  • How a career in consulting inside hundreds of companies was perfect preparation for writing this memoir
  • What I did differently writing this book than I had done writing Poetic License, my first memoir,
  • Using speculation along with research and memory to discover the story

I grew up the daughter of Pulitzer Prize–winning, and U.S. poet laureate, Richard Eberhart. My childhood home was filled with literary icons from Robert Frost to Allen Ginsberg and James Dickey. They were my first view of powerful men. My first memoir, Poetic License (2020) won 1st Runner-Up in the Eric Hoffer Book Award and Finalist in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year. The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy-A Family Memoir of Scandal and Greed in the Meat Industry was published in June 2023 by She Writes Press.

I spent nearly forty years advising hundreds of CEOs to transform their companies into places where both business and people could thrive and served as adjunct faculty in executive education programs at Harvard, Dartmouth, and Columbia. I’ve had strong community engagement, serving on nonprofit and corporate boards. Both my undergrad and MBA degrees came from the University of New Hampshire and I’ve had essays in Huffington Post, Covey Club, Yankee, Lit Hub, Electric Lit, Hippocampus, Quartz, and others. My essay “Maine Roustabout” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. My husband and I split our time between Portland, Maine, and a saltwater cottage on Penobscot Bay. When not writing, I find joy and passion being outside on my bike, skis, or in my hiking boots.

Learn more at www.gretchencherington.com

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