The sweeping title of the book promises much. Its author delivers both a bit more and a bit less.
Readers hoping for a focused case study of the rise and fall of the Appalachian way of life will be disappointed. Instead, Stoll moves frequently among a history of the global rise of capitalism, discussions of Appalachia, and comparisons with other subsistence communities destroyed by the rise of industrial business practices.
A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World explores tea as a global commodity whose history has been shaped by the transformations of capitalism and the regimes of empire and nationalism—the very forces, we might say, that have given us Starbucks.
Deetz’s Bound By Fire sets out to address our on-going gastronomic rehabilitation by focusing on the story of Virginia’s enslaved plantation cooks. She has taken on a difficult task, for those unsung chefs of the antebellum and colonial era left no cookery compilations or published sources behind.
Few historians so aptly make Grant and his time so legible to a 21st-century readership that continues to grapple with the political legacies of slavery and the Civil War.