Empire of Rubber; Firestone's Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia

Lily Houtman (Cartographer) and Jess Parvin (Autho New York: The New Press, 2021. First Printing [Stated]. Hardcover. xiii, [3], 312, [8] pages. Endpaper map. Illustrations. Notes. Index. Inscribed by the author on the half-title page. Inscription reads For Paul Wolff, In appreciation. Warmest best wishes, Gregg Mitman. Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and teacher. Mitman brings to his scholarship and teaching an interest in understanding the ways in which political economy, cultural values and beliefs, and scientific knowledge intersect in shaping the interactions between people and environments over time. His most recent work has focused on a multimedia project—films, a book, and public history website—exploring the history and legacy of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia. His most recent book is Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia. Mitman is the founding director of the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History and Environment (CHE) and is also past president of the American Society for Environmental History. His research has been supported by fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, among others. In the early 1920s, Americans owned 80 percent of the world’s automobiles and consumed 75 percent of the world’s rubber. But only one percent of the world’s rubber grew under the U.S. flag, threatening the nation’s explosive economic expansion. To solve its conundrum, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company turned to a tiny West African nation, Liberia, founded in 1847 as a free Black republic. Empire of Rubber tells a sweeping story of capitalism, racial exploitation, environmental devastation, and resistance, as Firestone transformed Liberia into America’s rubber empire. Historian and filmmaker Gregg Mitman scoured remote archives to unearth a history of promises unfulfilled for the vast numbers of Liberians who toiled on rubber plantations built on taken land. Mitman reveals a history of racial segregation and medical experimentation that reflected Jim Crow America—on African soil. As Firestone reaped fortunes, wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a few elites, fostering widespread inequalities that fed unrest, rebellions and, eventually, civil war.
A riveting narrative of ecology and disease, of commerce and science, and of racial politics and political maneuvering, Empire of Rubber uncovers the hidden story of a corporate empire whose tentacles reach into the present.
Condition: Very good / Very good.

Keywords: Liberia, Harvey Firestone, Rubber, Edwin Barclay, Economic Development, Firestone Plantations, Charles Dunbar King, Racism, Richard Strong

ISBN: 9781620973776

[Book #85053]

Price: $75.00

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