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Here we are. I put up The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party. I will come back to it because it is good, if also tedious and suffering from a pretty glaring fault in its argument. It's just not the kind of history I can take right now.
Put it up for a series of Transformers comics, 80s vintage. Never read 'em before and only casually a fan of the franchise. They are toy commercials with all the faults that entails, but they do work fairly well as mostly standalone issues with a loose ongoing plot. Got the first four collections in a Humble Bundle a year or two back, so I read through those. Don't know if I care enough to seek out more of the old stuff, but I've heard good things about the newer IDW ones and I partook of a second Humble Bundle for them. I'll get there eventually, though it looks like I'll need to sort out where the story begins.
Read The Nightmare Stacks. Really liked the protagonist for reasons probably obvious to everyone who reads more than a few of my posts. Would like to read many more books starring him, which will probably never get written. The romance angle worked as a joke (it's consciously structured like a romantic comedy) but I had a little trouble buying that they were that into each other. I get that they're both inexperienced and blundering through. It still came off like a high school thing that's going to last a few months, which undermined the conclusion a fair bit. Probably would have forgiven all of it if it were two dudes, though. Who the hell puts vampires and heterosexuality in the same work? Just disgusting.
Then it was back to non-fiction, which I kicked off with Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton. I was warned going in that it's dry and tedious, but I don't think it's too bad on that score. Maybe I've read too much Eric Foner. There are certainly parts which are repetitive, but it's a global history s there's a lot of space to span with all its complexities. Beckert is great about laying out his argument in the plain and returning to it often, which is more than I can say for a lot of historians. I tend to note the general trend when he goes into numbers and them blip over. I think I'm about halfway through, but here's the basic thing:
Cotton was the world's first ~industiral ~capitalist affair; it's at the heart of the first industrial revolution. All that's old news. Capitalism is a government program, the product of intensive and extensive statecraft. (Ditto.) It was produced to meet the growing demand of mechanization by the commission of atrocities on a global scale, which Beckert terms war capitalism. WC is the process of states forcibly reordering areas and regimenting labor on their periphery to serve production in the metropole, in ways that just aren't going to fly back home. Cotton cultivation was imposed in just about every way something can be imposed and to meet the demand that the states were creating required massive deindustrialization (in India in particular) and our old friend slavery. Once the periphery is re-ordered into something semi-stable, war capitalism can and probably will transition into industrial capitalism. Basically, this is the process of making an empire, hence the title.