Okay, okay, I know I said I wouldn’t write a book review. However, I am currently reading, The Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert, and its so darn good I can barely contain my enthusiasm. Reading one chapter a day (they are long chapters) I am making great progress, and should finish it by Sunday.
First, this book is an economic history. I know many people don’t like history let alone economics, but if you want to know how we as a global community arrived here, its important to understand economics, especially agricultural economics. We humans must eat and we wear clothes, not to say anything about our other needs. And we keep reproducing ourselves, so substance agriculture, we relied on for millennia is no longer feasible.
Second, I may be overeducated, but this book seems very accessible.
This morning, I read the chapter about the U.S. Civil War. No, I didn’t read about Lincoln’s troubles or the battles which were awful. I read about the war’s effect on the world economy. When the U. S. cotton monopoly was destroyed by the U. S. government, the whole world was affected. A very fascinating chapter as David and I watch the Jewel in the Crown on PBS again, about the last days of the British Raj.
India was profoundly affected by the U. S. Civil War, as was Egypt. Ditto, Algeria and Brazil. We hear a lot about the European potato famine and other disasters, but the rise and fall of cotton affected as many if not more people. European economies were so interlocked with that of the U. S. that when the cotton supplies from the U. S. diminished as a result of the war, people, owners and workers alike, dependent on the ‘dark Satanic’ cotton mills were devastated.
I knew most of this indirectly, because I concentrated on economic issues in Europe, while I was working on my graduate history degree. However, Beckert pulls it all together in one place. A great read.
After struggling with it for days, David finally hauled his decrepit desktop computer to the shop for repair. He built this computer in the 1980s, and he loves it, but I think the end is here. My old desktop computer resides on his workshop bench. Its been there for a couple of years. David says he can fix it. Maybe he can, but I said, why don’t you take it to the computer guy?
What you must understand is that this is a struggle over income taxes. I refuse to put the TurboTax software on my laptop. Well, that’s a lie. I have a copy of TurboTax on my laptop, and I refuse to update it. Next year, I tell him, next year. I want him to do the taxes as long as he can. I suggested we could contact AARP for assistance if necessary, and he says nothing. Perhaps he’s considering it?
I could prepare the taxes if I had to, but want him to do something to keep his brain cells active. He’s 86 this year, and mostly, all he does these days is make the odd trip to the grocery store and sleep. He complains about the grocery shopping, so I have been making the trip with him, or was until I fell down last week. My leg is black and purple and yellow, but better.
Yesterday, when I was working on my family tree, I discovered my Great-grandmother Jane was a servant girl before she married. Thus, I have found relatives on both sides of the family were servants and before them indentured servants. Perhaps this is why I care so fervently about labor issues. More work today on my family tree, and, I am making Chili con Carne, Texas style for our dinner.
For Denise: David liked the Garam Masala and the spices did not upset him one bit.
Tomorrow, granddaughter Rita turns 22. Her father (for most of her life) formally adopted her last week to celebrate. You go girl! Below, Rita and Joy, then and now.
Then and now…Rita and Joy