Soaked In Blood
Lorna Stephenson reviews The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber by John Tully
Socialist historian and novelist John Tully’s well-researched history of rubber shines a spotlight on a material most of us take for granted. The result is an accessible, well-written and absorbing account of rubber’s blood-soaked history, from the plunder of the Amazon and the Congo basin to slave labour in Nazi work camps. At first glance, a 360-page book on a single commodity might put off a potential reader. However it soon becomes clear why rubber is such a worthy subject. An essential commodity in the development of industrial capitalism, the drive to acquire rubber was central to European imperialism – with its catastrophic effects for indigenous populations.
Later, rubber manufacture in ‘rubber’s home town’, the US city of Akron, became a site of workers’ struggles. Rubber giants such as Goodyear and Firestone were some of the world’s first transnational corporations.
The book is brought to life by Tully’s humanist approach….
Read the entire review in Red Pepper magazine