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. 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 readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of world trade. . . As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating exploration of the history, economics, and politics of world trade. . . The Travels of a T-Shirts 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."
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The protagonist of this highly informative and entertaining book is a $6 T-shirt purchased in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Georgetown economist Rivoli uses her T-shirt as a vehicle for telling an analytic story about its life from the cotton fields of Texas to either its proud purchase by a Tanzanian villager or its sale as mattress filler, depending on its condition when discarded by its American owner. Along the way, she explores the history of cotton production and the cotton textile industry and evaluates the misguided and often absurd U.S. textile policy over the past half century, up to the end of 2004, when the multilateral Multifiber Arrangement (which inadvertently created many more jobs in not-quite-competitive developing countries than it preserved in the United States) expired. Rivoli draws heavily on her own interviews and on anthropological as well as economic literature, which gives her tale a human touch. She shows how despite the awful working conditions in apparel factories, in both historical America and contemporary poor countries the jobs they offered were often liberating to young women, who preferred the sweatshops to the stifling life they otherwise would have had to endure on the farm.