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The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World Hardcover – November 10, 2020

4.7 out of 5 stars 249 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“We are taken on a journey as epic, and varying, as the Silk Road itself… [The Fabric of Civilization is] like a swatch of a Florentine Renaissance brocade: carefully woven, the technique precise, the colors a mix of shade and shine and an accurate representation of the whole cloth.”
New York Times

“Expansive… The author is excellent at highlighting how textiles truly changed the world.”
Wall Street Journal

“Textile-making hasn’t gotten enough credit for its own sophistication, and for all the ways it undergirds human technological innovation—an error Virginia Postrel’s erudite and complete book goes a long way toward correcting at last.”
Wired

“The Fabric of Civilization is a fascinating book, and persuasive too: by the end the case is made that ‘textiles made the world.’”
Times (UK)

"Virginia Postrel has created a fascinating history of textiles from their Palaeolithic beginnings to the present and future -- from the earliest plant fibers plucked from weeds to synthetic fabrics with computer chips in the threads. And why, you say, should we examine mere cloth? Precisely because it fills more and more roles in our lives, yet we take it for granted.... Well researched and highly readable, the book is a veritable treat."
Elizabeth Wayland Barber, author of Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times and Prehistoric Textiles

"A fascinating, surprising and beautifully written history of technology, economics, and culture, told through the thread of textiles, humanity's most indispensable artefacts. I loved it."
Matt Ridley, author of How Innovation Works

"The story of technology is a story of human ingenuity, and nowhere is this more clear than in the story of textiles: the original technology, going beyond what we commonly think of as 'tech.' As with many technologies, we suffer an amnesia about them when we enjoy them in abundance, as Postrel observes; her book gives us back our memories about this technology that we use every day without even knowing it."
Marc Andreessen, co-founder, Netscape

"Cleanly written and completely accessible, this book opens up an entirely new world of textiles, explaining the most ancient archeological fabrics and the latest polymer blends that cool the body -- not warm it as textiles have done for thousands of years -- with equal verve."
Valerie Hansen, author of The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World--and Globalization Began

"Postrel's brilliant, learned, addictive book tells a story of human ingenuity.... Her deep story is of the liberty that permitted progress. Presently the descendants of slaves and serfs and textile workers got closets full of beauty, and fabric for the cold, a Great Enrichment since 1800 of three thousand percent."
Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, author of the Bourgeois Era trilogy

"Fascinating and wide-ranging... This is an engrossing and illuminating portrait of the essential role fabric has played in human history."
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Virginia Postrel is an award-winning journalist and independent scholar. She is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and has been a columnist for the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. She is the author of the highly acclaimed The Substance of Style and The Power of Glamour. Her research is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Product details

  • Publisher : Basic Books (November 10, 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1541617606
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1541617605
  • Item Weight : 1.23 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.55 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 249 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
249 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on November 22, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on December 5, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

Dutch
5.0 out of 5 stars First class read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 22, 2021
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Valerie S
5.0 out of 5 stars The fabric of civilisation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2021
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QSu
4.0 out of 5 stars Reference book for textiles
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 21, 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reference book for textiles
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 21, 2021
Good reference book for textile history.
Disappointed there were not more plates alongside the information. The cover is the only colour in the book.
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SULE AKKOYUNLU
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 26, 2020
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Helen Thurlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 17, 2021
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