Big Cotton

Big Cotton

The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101221358
  • 416 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


In the tradition of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Salt, this endlessly revealing book reminds us that the fiber we think of as ordinary is the world’s most powerful cash crop, and that it has shaped the destiny of nations. Ranging from its domestication 5,500 years ago to its influence in creating Calvin Klein’s empire and the Gap, Stephen Yafa’s Cotton gives us an intimate look at the plant that fooled Columbus into thinking he’d reached India, that helped start the Industrial Revolution as well as the American Civil War, and that made at least one bug—the boll weevil—world famous. A sweeping chronicle of ingenuity, greed,  conflict, and opportunism, Cotton offers “a barrage of fascinating information” (Los Angeles Times).
Big Cotton

Big Cotton

Written by: Stephen Yafa


“I have to hand it to Mr. Yafa. Cotton rules.” —The Wall Street Journal

“With wit and intelligence, Yafa demonstrates how a good deal of history can be learned by following a single thread.” —The Washington Post

“A comprehensive and often surprising history [of a crop that changed the world].”  —USA Today

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

1. Spun in All Directions 9
2. Star Turns 25
3. The Barber from Preston 39
4. Revolutionary Fiber 70
5. Camelot on the Merrimack 91
6. Looming Conflicts 118
7. Southern Exposure 147
8. Changing Fortunes 173
9. Two-Horse Power 202
10. Boll Weevil Blues 233
11. The Shirt on Your Back 270
12. Fields of Conflict 305

Afterword 338

Glossary 345
Notes 349
Bibliography 375
Acknowledgments 381
Index 385