Empire of Cotton

Empire of Cotton

A Global History

Book - 2014
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"The epic story of the rise and fall of the empire of cotton, its centrality in the world economy, and its making and remaking of global 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 1780, these men created a potent innovation (Beckert calls it war capitalism, capitalism based on unrestrained actions of private individuals; the domination of masters over slaves, of colonial capitalists over indigenous inhabitants), and crucially affected the disparate realms of cotton that had existed for millennia. We see how this thing called war capitalism shaped the rise of cotton, and then was used as a lever to transform the world. The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, farmers and merchants, workers and factory owners. In this as in so many other ways, Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the modern world. The result is a book as unsettling and disturbing as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist"--
Published: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780375414145
0375414142
Branch Call Number: 338.4767 BEC
Characteristics: xxii, 615 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm

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tirjan
Sep 12, 2016

A compelling read. Cotton, that is so commonplace today, was known to be useful to those societies where the crop grew in nature - India, Mexico, Peru, elsewhere in South Asia and other places. But NOT in Europe. Yet beginning in the 18th century and throughout the 19th cotton became the basis for the success of the economies of Britain, France, Germany Russia, China and later Japan and the US. But the United States initially had a hand in the success of British cotton manufacture because the American south became the preferred producer of raw cotton that the mills of Manchester relied upon. The Industrial Revolution in Britain was based on cotton and the US grew economically largely because of its slavery based cotton plantations in the south. But with emancipation of the slaves, the whole dynamic changed. The so-called Cotton Famine in the late 1860s was the beginning of the fall of British dominance in the world cotton trade and by 1960 it represented less than 1% of the world cotton manufacture.

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