Virginia Postrel: When Calico Was Treated Like Cocaine
“From the moment we’re born, we’re surrounded by textiles,” says Virginia Postrel, author of the new book The Fabric of Civilization. “It’s not just our clothes, it’s our blankets, it’s our curtains. It’s our bandages. It’s our duct tape! There are more textiles than you can ever think about surrounding us. And we don’t think about them very much.”
A former editor of Reason, Postrel is also the author of The Power of Glamour, The Substance of Style, and The Future and Its Enemies. Her new book is a thick history of a technology that is absolutely central to our daily lives and yet one we take for granted. By focusing on fabric, she is able to tell a fascinating story about economics, politics, trade, industrialization, and centuries’ worth of disruptive technology.
For instance, she notes that in 17th- and 18th-century
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