Empire of Cotton

By Sven Beckert,

Book cover of Empire of Cotton: A Global History

Book description

WINNER OF THE BANCROFT PRIZE • A Pulitzer Prize finalist that's 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.

“Masterly … An astonishing achievement.” —The New York Times

The empire of cotton was,…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked Empire of Cotton as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

While perhaps not ‘business history’ in the strictest of senses, Empire of Cotton explores themes relevant to any business history – those of power, hierarchy, capitalism, and consumption, to name a few, and does so in a global context. This is a book not just about history, but about how this history has shaped the world we live in today. In places, it is a sobering story of power struggles and exploitation, of conflict between humans as well as between humans and the natural world. While not one for the faint-hearted, this award-winning tome is worth the effort it requires.

From Siobhan's list on early-modern business history.

I have never read a book that so powerfully explores how capitalism has used racial violence, not only in the United States but around the world. Using cotton as a method to explore global history, Beckert will make you rethink everything you’ve heard about capitalism bringing peace and prosperity around the world.

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