Empire of Cotton: A Global History

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2014 - Business & Economics - 615 pages
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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.

 

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Empire of Cotton: A Global History

User Review  - Book Verdict

This ambitious book is a mostly successful attempt to write a global history of the rise and spread of cotton. Beckert's (American history, Harvard Univ.; The American Bourgeoisie) specialty is ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Government intervention, violence and profit, “Empire of Cotton” shows the history of industrial revolution. This is also one of the best books in business and money of the Best Books Guide( https://bestbooks.guide/bg/allANNUALBEST/bn/3/Annual-Best-Books-from-Critics/Top-Business-Money-Books-2014-2015) 

Contents

Chapter
3
Building War Capitalism
29
Chapter3
56
Capturing Labor Conquering Land
83
Slavery Takes Command
98
Industrial Capitalism Takes Wing
136
Mobilizing Industrial Labor
175
Making Cotton Global
199
A War Reverberates Around the World
242
Global Reconstruction
274
Destructions
312
The New Cotton Imperialism
340
The Return of the Global South
379
Chapter 14
427
Acknowledgments
445
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About the author (2014)

Sven Beckert is the Laird Bell Professor of American History at Harvard University. Holding a PhD from Columbia University, he has written widely on the economic, social, and political history of capitalism. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including from Harvard Business School, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. He was also a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.