Category History

Empire of Cotton

Emprie of Cotton
By Sven Beckert
Highbridge Audo
Retail Price $35.00
Amazon Price: $22.59

Book Description: 

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.

Review

I have decided to expand my horizons by using my long commute to work to study different topics that I never seem to have time for.  In order to do this I’ve found some great audiobooks to listen to that increase my knowledge.  I chose Empire of Cotton because of it’s discussion of economic history.  The book focuses on the development of capitalism and analyzes how slave labor played a big part in the growth of capitalism in the United States and throughout the world.   This audiobook was interesting to listen to.  The author is an academic historian who has a personal history in the cotton industry and brings a lot of knowledge to the table.  Anyone seriously interested in economic history, cotton, or globalization will profit from reading (or in my case listening) to this book.

~Reviewed by Jerry W.

 

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    Degenerate Art

    Degenerate Art
    By Olaf Peters
    Prestal
    Retail Price $60.00
    Amazon Price: $40.45

    Book Description: 

    This book accompanies the first major museum exhibition devoted to a reconstruction of the infamous Nazi display of modern art since the presentation originated by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1991. During the Nazi regime in Germany, “degenerate art” was the official term for much of the most important modern art of the day. “Degenerate art” was defined by the Nazi regime as artwork that was not in line with the National Socialists’ ideas of beauty. Their condemnation extended to works in nearly every major art movement: Expressionism, Dada, New Objectivity, Surrealism, Cubism, and Fauvism. Banned artists included Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Oskar Kokoschka. Richly illustrated, Degenerate Art elucidates the historical and intellectual context of the notorious exhibition in Munich in 1937, which spurred the attack on modern art. The book contains reflections on the genesis and evolution of the term “degenerate art” and details of the National Socialist policy on art. Art works from the exhibition Degenerate Art are compared to works of art from The Great German Art Exhibition, which was held at the same time and displayed the works of officially approved artists. The book also presents the after-effects of the attack on modernism that are felt even today.

    Review

     

    This book a scholarly text on how the Nazi’s viewed contemporary art and their reaction to it.  In 1937, Germany’s Nazi government staged an exhibition in Munich displaying “modern art” which was not strictly classicist or realist in nature. The exhibition was not merely designed to illustrate what the Nazis deemed “bad art,” but had a political purpose. “Modern art” was deemed to be part of the overall assault on “German art” and culture.  While not your usual art book, the text is accompanied by wonderful color illustrations.  This book and the exhibit it represents is critical to understand a chapter of history that is quickly being forgotten.

    ~Reviewed by John C.

     

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