Reviews

  • A masterpiece of the historian's craft: combining a global scope with concern for the nuances of individual experience, Beckert tracks the fortunes of a single commodity, cotton, across six continents and thousands of years. That sweeping project is driven by the attempt to unravel the causes and consequences of one overarching puzzle: "why, after many millennia of slow economic growth, a few strands of humanity in the late eighteenth century suddenly got much richer." On the way to his answer, Beckert uncovers a history he claims "provides the key to understanding the modern world." . . . The belief that discovering the origins of economic growth might unlock modernity's secrets raises questions that are even more tantalizing

    The Nation