The White Stuff

Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Alfred A. Knopf), by Harvard professor Sven Beckert, is cut from the same cloth as last year’s surprise publishing sensation, French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Both books are groundbreaking economic histories that convincingly demonstrate how capitalism’s “invisible hand” has too often meant the back of the hand for countless workers and, more recently, an endangered middle class.

No. 8 Woman Hollering Creek (1991)

Cisneros wasn’t born in Texas, but her rendering of the rasquache Tex-Mex vernacular is pitch-perfect in this short-story collection, which appeared just seven years after she arrived in San Antonio. Anchored in Mexico and Texas, these stories read like lapidary poems, telling of romance, revenge, carnal and spiritual longing, and whimsy.

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