A clue to the dichotomy at the heart of this accessible history of American capitalism is buried deep within it. In describing the growth of the footwear company Nike in the 1970s and 1980s, Bhu Srinivasan writes that ‘Nike, as a new symbol of Americana, was a potent mix of high-margin, high-value American intellectual property and low-margin, low-value foreign labor.’ The revolution exemplified by Nike’s growth has only accelerated since. In his concluding chapter, Srinivasan classifies Apple founder Steve Jobs, ‘a man who had made it so that a customer in India could buy a product made in China, which never entered American airspace or physically touched an American hand’, as an equal to the industrial magnates of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Perception is a weird thing. Lawrence Durrell saw Hydra as a ‘great horned toad’ but Henry Miller thought it resembled a ‘huge loaf of petrified bread’. Niko Ghika painted it as a series of neat white and orange squares.
The minimalist Fumio Sasaki 'confesses that as he began to purchase fewer consumer goods, his meals shrank in size. He decluttered and lost weight. Accumulation is not just an economic way of life but a form of embodiment too. Enlightenment is reduction.'
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.