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ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
WINNER OF THE BANCROFT PRIZE
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
The epic story of the rise and fall of the empire of cotton, its centrality to the world economy, and its making and remaking of global capitalism.
Cotton is so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, yet understanding its history is key to understanding the origins of modern capitalism. Sven Beckert’s rich, fascinating book tells the story of how, in a remarkably brief period, European entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen recast the world’s most significant manufacturing industry, combining imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers to change the world. Here is the story of how, beginning well before the advent of machine production in the 1780s, these men captured ancient trades and skills in Asia, and combined them with the expropriation of lands in the Americas and the enslavement of African workers to crucially reshape the disparate realms of cotton that had existed for millennia, and how industrial capitalism gave birth to an empire, and how this force transformed the world.
The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, workers and factory owners. Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the world of modern capitalism, including the vast wealth and disturbing inequalities that are with us today. The result is a book as unsettling as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist.
|Title||:||Empire of Cotton: A Global History|
|Number of Pages||:||640 pages|
April 20, 2017
Cotton: The Fabric of our lives abject human misery
In the words of the author: This book is the story of the rise and fall of the European-dominated empire of cotton. But because of the centrality of cotton, its story is also the story of the making and remaking of the global capitalism and with...
June 28, 2016
A fascinating subject and I learnt a lot. The author has backed his sources with a huge 140 pages of footnotes. The text itself is "only" 448 pages.
Coming in I could not wait to start but in the end found myself happy to end. In my opinion as informative as this book is the author is not that go...
December 26, 2015
Hands down one of the best books I read this year. He shows how capitalism, slavery, cotton and colonization have all been intricately connected to one another for centuries. A must-read!!!
January 09, 2017
I chose to read this book based on a glowing review from The Economist. I am unclear why the review was glowing. I have no reason to doubt the facts presented in the book. In fact, it may even be a good introductory source to the history of the cotton market. I had to abandon this book due to the...
April 21, 2015
Beckert's magisterial, sweeping, yet humanized and personal examination of the role of cotton in the world is the best "commodities" book (Salt/Sugar/Tea/Cod/etc.) I have ever read. With a sure hand in economics, social history and world civilizations, he illustrates the creation of the modern wo...
January 16, 2015
This book is a one volume history of the cotton industry from the beginning (I am not joking) up through the heydey of "King Cotton" and into the modern age. It is very thorough and the author appears to have read nearly everything of importance ever written about the industry. This is a serious...
August 09, 2015
“Empire Of Cotton” is really two books. First, it’s an exhaustive exposition of the history of cotton as a textile raw material. That’s about 80% of the book, and by exhaustive I mean very, very exhaustive. Second, and unfortunately dominating, it’s a puerile, scattered, self-contradictory and co...
March 27, 2015
One of those books that takes the mask of the economy and exposes the ugly beast based on power and war capitalism. By using cotton as a case study the author demonstrates that the invisible hand that concentrates market power in industries like cotton goes hand in hand with military force. I ha...
January 19, 2016
This book is an exhaustive review of the role of the cotton trade as the leading edge of globalization. It's very detailed, to the point of numbness in many cases. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of fodder for thought here; just who is it who really benefits from "free" trade?
October 17, 2016
One of those books helps me understand the world better.
Cotton industry was the king of industries in the past, it paved the way for the development/de-development of many regions across the globe with war-capitalism, land appropriation, slavery, wage labor, protectionism. I enjoy the comparison...