Pietra Rivoli starts with a T-shirt grabbed out of a bin at Wal-Mart and follows it from its birth to its death. She meets cotton farmers in Texas, clothing manufacturers in China, politicians in DC, and used clothing distributors in Africa.
This is one of the best non-fiction books I've read this year. The T-shirt is the perfect vehicle for exploring globalization - everyone owns them, nobody knows where they come from. Rivoli punctuates her economics with portraits of individuals who make the story of a simple cotton garment come alive if a way I never imagined possible.
I consider myself reasonably well-educated about free trade. I didn't really think this book would have much to teach me. I was wrong. Rivoli evaluates the positive and negative impact of every aspect of globalization. In addition, she introduced me to a whole market I wasn't even aware of - mitumba. When you donate used clothing to a charity, a large portion gets sold to used clothes dealers and eventually ends up in Africa. There's a lively and mostly unregulated market in American cast-offs. Who knew?
Love it - highly recommended. This would make a great classroom book.
SO NOT BORING! (<----my favorite new phrase. Watch for it in future reviews.)