338. Books on economic production
Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations, 1974.
While not entirely well-received when it was released, Barnet and Muller’s book proved prophetic. This book is an excellent place to start if you wonder how multinational corporations rose to their current dominance.
Sven Beckert Empire of Cotton: A Global History, 2014.
For hundreds of years, cotton has been everywhere, from clothes to furnishings and beyond. Sven Beckert provides the story of how it rose to world prominence as a commodity and the place it took in reshaping the world economy. Without it, our current world would be quite different.
Allan M. Brandt The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America, 2007.
Historian Allan Brandt explains how the cigarette industry worked to suppress scientific evidence of smoking’s dangers and how it fought to escape regulation. Even though it’s no longer the cultural force it used to be in America, these companies have expanded into global markets that threaten the health of millions of people worldwide.
John Carreyrou Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, 2018.
John Carreyrou broke the story of the massive fraud perpetrated by Elizabeth Holmes and the company she founded, Theranos. By promising to make blood tests faster and easier, she sold shares that ultimately had the company valued at $9 billion. But technology didn’t work and Carreyrou followed the story throughout the company’s fall.
John K. Galbraith The Great Crash 1929, 1954.
Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galbraith explores what brought about the historical, global Great Depression of 1930. He shares the story with wit and humor that makes for enjoyable reading.
Naomi Klein No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No JobsI, 2000.
Award-winning journalist Naomi Klein examines the branded and packaged world that was America at the turn of the third millennium. She analyses the culture, the politics that supported it, and her own ample time spent in malls while growing up. She reveals the price paid by many to support this consumer lifestyle.
Beth Macy Factory Man, 2014.
At one time, Bassett, Virginia was the headquarters of the largest furniture manufacturer in the world. But in the 1980s the company was forced to send its production overseas to remain competitive in a global market. But John Bassett III, grandson of the company’s founder kept the Virginia business going with his company Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company. Macy uses her journalistic skills to tell the story of how he managed to save hundreds of jobs in a political landscape that was turning its back on America’s middle-class workers.
Gerald Posner Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America, 2020.
When a corporation makes its money by treating illness and injury, the temptation to overcharge for much-needed drugs and treatments can be overwhelming. Award-winning journalist and attorney Gerald Posner looks at addictive products from morphine to prescription opioids. The Sackler family alone is responsible for untold suffering. Posner reveals how it all happened.
Eric Scholsser Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, 2005.
Investigative reporter Eric Scholsser shares how ubiquitous fast-food restaurants changed not only American eating habits but also American culture.
Charles D. Thompson Going Over Home: A Search for Rural Justice in an Unsettled Land, 2019.
Charles D. Thompson watched the farms in his family in Southwest Virginia and Kentucky disappear throughout his youth. Here he tells the stories of the people who worked the land and lost it. By examining the activism and coping tactics used by people in societal upheaval, he reveals much about inequality and America’s rural residents.
Anna Wiener Uncanny Valley: A Memoir, 2020.
At the turn of the century, Anna Wiener left her New York publishing job for the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. She reminisces on the lifestyle, the work ethic, the dreams, and the extravagance of an era past.
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