New York Times Book ListsSzabo, who died in , first published her novel in , in the last years of Communist rule; this supple translation shows how a story about two women in 20th-century Hungary can resonate in a very different time and place. This revelatory collection gathers 43 of them, introducing her to a wider audience as an uncompromising and largehearted observer of life whose sympathies favor smart, mouthy women struggling to get by much as Berlin herself — an alcoholic who raised four sons on her own — frequently did. A divorced woman traveling in Greece, our narrator, talks — or rather listens — to the people she meets, absorbing their stories of love and loss, deception, pride and folly. Coates writes to his son with a cleareyed realism about the beautiful and terrible struggle that inheres in flesh and bone. If sugar was the defining commodity of the 18th century and oil of the 20th, then surely cotton was king in the 19th century. In this sweeping, ambitious and disturbing survey , Beckert takes us through every phase of a global industry that has relied on millions of miserably treated slaves, sharecroppers and millworkers to turn out its product. The industrialization of cotton rested on violence, Beckert tells us, and its story is that of the development of the modern world itself.
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