The Travels of A T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade
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The Travels of A T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,188 ratings  ·  199 reviews
"The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy" takes the reader on a fascinating, around-the-world journey to reveal the economic and political lessons from the life story of a simple t-shirt. Over five years, business professor Pietra Rivoli traveled from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory to a used clothing market in Africa, to investigate compelling questions a...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 2005)
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Pera
Untuk orang yang sangat awam tentang ekonomi seperti saya, buku ini nyaman dibaca. Isi dari buku ini mengupas tentang Ekonomi Global dan perdagangan bebas.

Metodenya sederhana.
Bercerita tentang perjalanan hidup T-Shirt. Latar belakang pencarian kisah hidup T-Shirt tersebut diawali oleh kegusaran seorang profesor bisnis, Pietra Rivolli,terhadap celotehan aktifis yang menggugat perdagangan bebas. Dari mana dia(aktifis) tau?.
Untuk membuktikan ocehan aktifs itu, si Prof pun menggali asal muasal T-S...more
Brian
(4.5) Surprisingly good, though not surprisingly not much actually about the path of her T-shirt

In-depth investigation of the history and politics of the industries that touch T-shirts: cotton production, processing, apparel manufacturing, shipping, recycling. She traces the history of each of these industries from their birth to today, then picks apart the current trends driving the industries today. Particularly eye-opening were the fights over tariffs and import quotas on apparel...many parti...more
Garrett Burnett
An economist follows the life of her t-shirt in painful detail. Rivoli starts in the cotton fields of Texas and ends up in Tanzania in the rag and second-hand clothing market. She spends plenty of time in Asia along the way, specifically China, and shares a somewhat dispassionate assessment of sweat shops.

Rivoli spends way too much time talking about the textile lobby in the United States. Throughout, she presents her analysis in a narrative form, and therefore focuses on specific characters an...more
Rachel
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything asks clever questions and explores them in clever ways. It's a fun read. But if you're going to read just one popularized economics book this year, I recommend The Travels of a T-Shirt. It breaks the major rule of economics-qua-science: it is an extended anecdote with frequent detours into cultural history and popular biography. As my scientist friends like to remind me, and as Rivoli herself is at pains to point out, the pl...more
Sue
Pietra Rivoli bought a souvenir T-shirt, and then she wrote a book about it. Inspired to explore the lowly T-shirt by an anti-WTO rally, she determined to look at the issues related to cotton farming, to clothing manufacture, and ultimately to the used-clothing trade.

If there is one message in this book, it is that free trade in the world of cotton is myth. With one exception, that is. More about that later.

First Rivoli traces the story of cotton as a critical commodity. The preeminence of the U...more
Aditya
This is long, carefully researched and well written book about the history, geography, culture, politics and trade in cotton and cotton textiles in particular and trade in general. The author gives an excellent overview of how politics, culture and money interact to create complex trade policies in US and around the world. Although a cotton T-shirt is the last thing you would expect governments and interest groups to fight over, it is surprising to find the number of lives it affects. It is fasc...more
Mike
Sep 17, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
There has been a lot written recently in blogs and traditional media about the environmental impact of a cotton T-Shirt. This book is the granddaddy of all of them.

In a well-written and succinct book, Prof. Rivoli tells us about how this most ubiquitous item of western attire is created, used, and disposed of - once, twice, and maybe a third time. Using both objective facts and personal anecdotes, this book is both educational and enjoyable.

Although I read it a little while back and the book its...more
Alvaro Berrios
What a superb book. Whether you’re a free trade supporter, a staunch protectionist, or a fierce labor activist you need to read this book! This is hands down the most unbiased book I have ever read from the perspective that all sides of the debate are tdiscussed or addressed. And whatever your beliefs are, I guarantee that you will find something in this book that will cause you to stop, and possibly re-think or tweak some of your own ideals.

The book is well-written, immensely informative and t...more
Daniel
This book shows you a bit of the lives of several people along the supply chain and trade routes of T-shirts, including American cotton farmers, Chinese factory girls, trade lobby etc. This is the main contribution of the book and probably also what makes it appealing to many people. However, I found many of the points made quite obvious. American cotton farmers compete based on technology, machinery and generous subsidies, Chinese textile manufacturers on low wages...
Another weakness of the boo...more
Ari
There was a horrifying moment when I was reading this book about economics and politics and boll weevils where I found myself laughing out loud. Who am I.

I did actually enjoy reading this book, even though the economic and political topics are not always my favorite. But I'm reading this for a sociology course and the class discussions definitely elevate the book. And the voice of the author was compelling and engaging enough to keep me turning the pages (without falling asleep) and make me laug...more
Michelle
An engaging read and a good book even if you only have a layman's understanding of economics. Very interesting to hear about the people she met along the way while researching.

I disagree with some of the author's conclusions in the last section but there was a lot of good information in here to consider. She believes that the path to world peace is the free market, and believes that it empowers everyone it comes in contact with. I'm unsure that she's in an unbiased position to make such broad st...more
Susan
I think this book should be required reading for schools from HS and up. Many, many people only repeat the propaganda put out by activist groups (ie: anti-trade) without any real knowlege of what they are saying. This book would help to clear up their incorrect thought processes and open their eyes to at least some as to what is really happening in the big picture of trade. I learned so much from this book even having a financial background. I told my friend it was like taking a college class wi...more
Jacob
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy follows the production of a simple t-shirt from the growing of the cotton to the final stages of marketing, and provides an economist's insight into the situation. The book is entertaining, yet provides a great insight into such issues as tariffs, sweatshop labor, and globalization. It it gives a first hand look into all parts of production by associating faces with the jobs they perform. The author also interviews workers first hand. This book was...more
Sarah Mansour
Pietra Rivoli takes you on a trip of a T-shirts production, distribution, usage and re-usage.
She starts off with the very basic farming of the cotton, covering its history in the US and its chronological development following the technological revolution. She then goes on and gives possible scenarios of where the cotton ends up to be made into garments and t-shirts. For that, she visits the main production site: China. In China you get exposed to various aspects of the t-shirt production starti...more
Brian Keller
An even-handed look at globalization. My views on protectionism and off-shoring were, to say the least, uninformed prior to reading this book. Now, through the lens of this industry, I can see more of the complexity of interaction between the workers, the government regulation, business, and the customers. I highly recommend this book to everyone. The only weakness is also the book's strength, that is, the author's coverage of the topic is so thorough that it becomes tedious in spots.
Jeremiah
What a long, strange trip a T-shirt takes. Told through both a history of cotton production and the individual stories of people in the t-shirt supply chain, I kept expecting to be bored but was continuously fascinated...perhaps because I am a supply chain professional.

As an academic, the author does a nice job of qualifying her insights, and provides great context both in the fascinating history of cotton production built on the backs of slaves to the innovations that have emerged and why the e...more
Cameron Samodai

I received the book The Travels of A T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli as a gift from my aunt and uncle, who are both aware that I’m very interested in economics. I was drawn to this book because I don’t read nearly enough on economics in physical book form, and so often the sources provide inaccuracy. A physical book’s sources are checked, because the publisher has a reputation to uphold. That, and books cost money to produce, while an Internet post just takes time. Going into thi...more
Jason
Thought it'd give more insight into the economics of globalism, but ended up with more knowledge about cotton production than I ever really cared to know about.
Barrett
I honestly found this book a bit simple, especially in its analysis of apparel production in China. But four stars. Because 1) there is a great chapter that provides historical and economic context for Texas Cotton (after reading Rivoli, I am now certain this is a proper noun) and 2) there is a chapter about the second-hand clothes market!! For anyone who has shopped in – and has questions related to – the second-hand clothes markets the in developing world, Rivoli digs into the second-hand indu...more
Jeff
This book, although older, was surprisingly good. It's well written and the story is current enough to still be applicable. I found it abandoned on a bookshelf at work and thought it might be good to sift through for some tid bits on economics. The author does a great job of taking a trivial item, a random t-shirt, to create and interesting analogue on the good and bad of the global economy. I was most surprised by the overwhelming amount of politics involved. This book was a business book of th...more
Justin Tapp

Rivoli is an economist at Georgetown Univ. who decided to take up a sweatshop protester's challenge and find out where her t-shirt was made. What follows is a journey through the supply chain and an in-depth look at the complicated rules and regulations on trade.

It's a great historical look at how the U.S. has developed its production, labor standards, and comparative advantages. How America's domination of the cotton market is partly through creative ingenuity and a free enterprise system and p...more
Mary Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anton
Agak lucu juga nemu buku ini. Sekitar sebulan lalu aku dapat kaos oleh-oleh dari bos di kantor yang baru pulang dari Belgia. Seumur hidup sampai sekarang, baru kali ini aku dapat kaos dengan logo fair trade di belakangnya. Ada logo Max Havelaar dan keterangan bahwa kaos itu diproduksi dengan menerapkan prinsip-prinsip fair trade.

Menurut organisasi fair trade sedunia International Federation of Alternative Trade (IFAT), fair trade adalah perdagangan yang berdasarkan pada dialog, keterbukaan dan s...more
John and Kris
I receive two notices monthly from local charities willing to pick-up gently used clothing items from my front porch on specific days. Last year I donated, on multiple occasions, giant garbage bags of button down shirts, polo shirts, dress slacks, and t-shirts, many, many t-shirts. How do Americans acquire so many t-shirts? Think about your closet. Now think about your t-shirts. How many t-shirts do you really wear on a regular basis?

The average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing and te...more
Sam Lee
This book got me to really rethink my position on second hand clothes on Africa. It resented the economics of the world of T-shirts in a convincing way by journeying through the lifecycle of a T-shirt, from cotton to Cameroon, and explored all the steps in between.

My original belief about second hand clothing was that people in the developed world donated old clothes to make themselves feel better, but those clothes then go to saturate the market in African countries and destroy their domestic T...more
Helen
This book is really informative. Not only does it tell the story of how a t-shirt is made from cotton seed in Texas to its castoff recycling in Africa, it also talks about how economy and globalization, specifically politics; affects the world market for apparel.

It talks about how China, the leading manufacturer for apparel is rising very high, and how they overwhelm our exports, how africa takes our castoff and sell them again, how Bangladesh and India compete with China and so forth.

The autho...more
cathepsut
There is a prologue and a lengthy prologue to the prologue, before we get into the details of Texas cotton farming and being thoroughly educated on the history of cotton farming in the US. That is followed by a very brief chapter about China that focuses on sweatshops, giving the impression that there is nothing else there. Then follows an over-detailed and way too long chapter on trade policies, quotas and politics. At that point I nearly tossed the book, because it was not only painfully borin...more
Gloria
I'm actually in the middle of the book now, having decided to read the last third first. The last third (Africa) was the main reason I picked the book up to begin with: I wanted more information on the mitumba market--- something I deal with everyday, as I have made that pledge for purchasing used (exterior) clothing from now on (it's been over a year, actually; should check to see when I started that).

The travels of a T-shirt was first brought to my attention by a NYT Sunday Magazine article;...more
Christopher
In this revealing study of the "life" of an ordinary t-shirt, Ms. Rivoli shines a light on international trade and trade policy in a way that few other books can. The book starts with cotton production in East Texas and then moving around the world to show how a t-shirt is made and traded, often times in ways that both support and refute free trade critics and supporters alike. It was very interesting to read how greatly trade policy and U.S. subsidies influence the market in both good and bad w...more
Ita
With the recent collapse of a building in Bangladesh which killed ~1100 people, Planet Money (NPR) had several programs about garment manufacture. They plan to do an in-depth series on what goes into making a T-shirt, which prompted me to get this audiobook.

Since I'm more of a fiction reader, I was surprised to find this book *very* interesting. The author intersperses a lot of facts and figures into an entertaining narrative. She also included a lot of behind-the-scenes politics. I realize my d...more
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