Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert
Add Empire of Cotton to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf
Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert
Paperback $20.00
Nov 10, 2015 | ISBN 9780375713965

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (1) +
  • Nov 10, 2015 | ISBN 9780375713965

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Dec 02, 2014 | ISBN 9780385353250

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details


Winner of the Alfred and Fay Chandler Book Award

“Masterly…. Deeply researched and eminently readable, Empire of Cotton gives new insight into the relentless expansion of global capitalism.  With graceful prose and a clear and compelling argument, Beckert not only charts the expansion of cotton capitalism … he addresses the conditions of enslaved workers in the fields and wage workers in the factories.  An astonishing achievement.”—Thomas Bender, New York Times
“Important…. a major work of scholarship that will not be soon surpassed as the definitive account of the product that was, as Beckert puts it, the Industrial Revolution’s ‘launching pad.’” —Adam Hochschild, New York Times Book Review     
“Breathtakingly comprehensive, informative and provocative.” —Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World
“Persuasive … brilliant … Beckert’s detailed narrative never scants the rich complexity of the cotton trade’s impact on many different societies.” —Wendy Smith, Boston Globe
Empire of Cotton proves Sven Beckert one of the new elite of genuinely global historians.  Too little present-day academic history is written for the general public. ‘Empire of Cotton’ transcends this barrier and should be devoured eagerly, not only by scholars and students but also by the intelligent reading public. The book is rich and diverse in the treatment of its subject. The writing is elegant, and the use of both primary and secondary sources is impressive and varied. Overviews on international trends alternate with illuminating, memorable anecdotes…. Beckert’s book made me wish for a sequel.” —Daniel Walker Howe, The Washington Post
“Momentous and brilliant … Empire of Cotton is among the best nonfiction books of this year.” —Karen R. Long, Newsday
“Compelling … Beckert demonstrates persuasively how the ravenous cotton textile trade in Europe was instrumental in the emergence of capitalism and draws a direct line from the practices that nourished this empire to similar elements in the production of goods for today’s massive international retailers. Those who long to know more about how and why slavery took hold in Europe, Africa and the Americas will find this book to be immensely enlightening.  Better still, those who live out the troubled legacy of the exploitation and enslavement of workers in the service of the cotton empire will find in it added inspiration for their continuing efforts to realize a just and more equitable society.” —Ruth Simmons, President Emeritus of Brown University
“Intellectually ambitious … a masterpiece of the historian’s craft.” —Timothy Shenk, The Nation
“A highly detailed, provocative work.” —Booklist
“Hefty, informative, and engaging … Beckert’s narrative skills keep the story of capitalism fresh and interesting for all readers.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Beckert’s] close-up study of the cotton economy is a valuable model for the study of capitalism generally, an economic system in which slavery and colonialism were not outliers but instead integral to the whole … a valuable contribution.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Fascinating and profound…. Global history as it should be written.” —Eric Foner


Bancroft Prize WINNER 2015

Pulitzer Prize (History) FINALIST 2015

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates about Sven Beckert
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking “SIGN UP”, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and understand that Penguin Random House collects certain categories of personal information for the purposes listed in that policy, discloses, sells, or shares certain personal information and retains personal information in accordance with the policy. You can opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information anytime.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top