Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Cotton is so ubiquitous today that it is almost invisible. While cotton has been grown for millennia, it was only in the nineteenth century that it became a global commodity. This book traces the cotton industry from its rise in the nineteenth century as the king of world trade to its decline as it gave way to other commodities. In the process, readers get a glimpse of how the modern world’s economy developed through the example of cotton.
Cotton’s story is well-researched through sources not just on Europe and in America, but also those in Asia and Africa. Several accounts are presented (sometimes repeated) from the wealth accumulated to the plight of the exploited workers, both in the past and today. The author’s opinion is also presented (and sometimes repeated). In a work that hopes to narrate such a vast story, errors of omission are likely. But for readers interested in learning about how cotton exploited workers, created great wealth, spurred international trade, co-opted government intervention at a global level, and influenced conflict, this is an excellent book. However this is an academic work, and is written as such.