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- KurzbeschreibungONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR<br>WINNER OF THE BANCROFT PRIZE<br>PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST<br>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.<br>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.<br>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.
- AutorSven Beckert
- VerlagAlfred A Knopf
- FormatGebundene Ausgabe
- Seiten640 Seiten
- Gewicht1045 g
- LeseprobeIn 1935, while living in Danish exile, a young German writer sat down to consider how the modern world had come into being. Bertolt Brecht channeled his thoughts through the voice of an imaginary "Worker Who Reads." That worker asked many questions, including:<br>Who built Thebes of the seven gates?<br>In the books you will find the name of kings.<br>Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?<br>And Babylon, many times demolished.<br>Who raised it up so many times? In what houses<br>Of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?<br>Brecht might as well have been talking about a very different empire, that of cotton. By his time, the legend of cotton was well documented; history books were filled with the stories of those who harnessed the plant's unique gifts, Richard Arkwright and John Rylands, Francis Cabot Lowell and Eli Whitney. But as with any industry, the empire itself was sustained by millions of unnamed workers, who labored on cotton plantations and farms, and in spinning and weaving mills throughout the world, including in Brecht's hometown of Augsburg. Indeed, it was in Augsburg, as we have seen, that Hans Fugger had accumulated his riches in the nonmechanized production of cottons more than half a millennium earlier.<br>Like Brecht's haulers and builders, few cotton workers have entered our history books. Most left not even a trace; too often they were illiterate, and almost always their waking hours were occupied with holding body and soul together, leaving little time to write letters or diaries, as their social betters did, and thus few ways for us to piece their lives together. One of the saddest sights to this day is St. Michael's Flags in Manchester, a small park where allegedly forty thousand people, most of them cotton workers, lie buried in unmarked graves, one on top of the other, "an almost industrial process of burying the dead." Ellen Hootton was one of these rare exceptions. Unlike millions of others, she entered the historical record when in June 1833 she was called before His Majesty's Factory Inquiry Commission, which was charged with investigating child labor in British textile mills. Though only ten when she appeared before the committee and frightened, she was already a seasoned worker, a two-year veteran of the cotton mill. Ellen had drawn public attention because a group of middle-class Manchester activists concerned with labor conditions in the factories sprouting in and around their city had sought to use her case to highlight the abuse of children. They asserted that she was a child slave, forced to work not just in metaphorical chains, but in real ones, penalized by a brutal overseer
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