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The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Tradeby Pietra Rivoli
Synopses & Reviews
Praise for THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
"Engrossing . . . (Rivoli) goes wherever the T-shirt goes, and there are surprises around every corner . . . full of memorable characters and vivid scenes."
"An engaging and illuminating saga. . . . Rivoli follows her T-shirt along its route, but that is like saying that Melville follows his whale. . . . Her nuanced and fair-minded approach is all the more powerful for eschewing the pretense of ideological absolutism, and her telescopic look through a single industry has all the makings of an economics classic."
—The New York Times
"Rarely is a business book so well written that one would gladly stay up all night to finish it. Pietra Rivoli's The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is just such a page-turner."
"Succeeds admirably . . . T-shirts may not have changed the world, but their story is a useful account of how free trade and protectionism certainly have."
"[A] fascinating exploration of the history, economics, and politics of world trade . . . The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a thought-provoking yarn that exhibits the ugly, the bad, and the good of globalization, and points to the unintended positive consequences of the clash between proponents and opponents of free trade."
—Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)
"Part travelogue, part history, and part economics, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is ALL storytelling, and in the grand style. A must-read."
—Peter J. Dougherty, Senior Economics Editor, Princeton University Press author of Who's Afraid of Adam Smith?
"A readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of free trade . . . As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan."
—San Francisco Chronicle
In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, business professor Pietra Rivoli takes the reader on a fascinating around-the-world adventure to reveal the life story of her six-dollar T-shirt. Traveling from a West Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory, and from trade negotiations in Washington to a used clothing market in Africa, Rivoli examines international trade through the life story of this simple product. Combining a compelling story with substantive scholarship, Rivoli shows that both globalization's critics and its cheerleaders have oversimplified the world of international trade.
As Rivoli spoke with businesspeople around the world who played a part in her T-shirt's life, she was forced to confront her own assumptions about the political, economic, and ethical effects of globalization. Trained as a classical economist, Rivoli expected the story of her T-shirt to reveal the undeniable benefits of global free trade and the misguided ideas of the anti-globalization movement. Instead, she found that "free markets" usually aren't free; that even the staunchest allies of free trade regularly benefit from its restriction; and that the alleged "victims" of globalization are often its greatest beneficiaries. While the globalization debate remains centered on the perils versus the promise of competitive economic markets, Rivoli finds that the life story of her T-shirt turns as much on power and politics as it does on markets.
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy uses a simple T-shirt to reveal the politics and the human side of the globalization debate. Within the fabric of every product are fascinating
businesses, good and bad politics, revealing histories, and especially the hopes and dreams of real people. These people's stories—and the story of the T-shirt that ties them together—present the most nuanced look yet at the economics and politics of globalization.
Lauded by the New York Times, Financial Times, and reviewers worldwide, this enlightening book has been the recipient of numerous awards. The story takes readers on a fascinating, around-the-world journey to reveal economic and political lessons from the life story of a simple t-shirt. Looking closely at the lives of Texas cotton farmers, Chinese textile workers, and other players in the t-shirt's story, Rivoli illustrates crucial lessons in the globalization debate, including its costs for communities around the world. This edition includes a new epilogue.
About the Author
Pietra Rivoli, PhD, is on the faculty of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, where she specializes in international business, finance, and social issues in business.
Table of Contents
PART I: KING COTTON.
Chapter 1. Reinsch Cotton Farm, Smyer, Texas.
Chapter 2. The History of American Cotton.
Chapter 3. Back at the Reinsch Farm.
PART II: MADE IN CHINA.
Chapter 4. Cotton Comes to China.
Chapter 5. The Long Race to The Bottom.
Chapter 6. Sisters in Time.
PART III: TROUBLE AT THE BORDER.
Chapter 7. Dogs Snarling Together.
Chapter 8. Perverse Effects and Unintended.
Consequences of T-Shirt Trade Policy.
Chapter 9. 40 Years of "Temporary" Protectionism.
PART IV: MY T-SHIRT FINALLY ENCOUNTERS A FREE MARKET.
Chapter 10. Where T-Shirts Go after the Salvation Army Bin.
Chapter 11. How Small Entrepreneurs Clothe East Africa with Old American T-Shirts.
Epilogue to the Paperback Edition.
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