REVIEWS Virginia, 17721832 (New York, 2013) and The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Indian Allies & Irish Rebels (New York, 2010). Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America. By Jennifer Anderson. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. Pp. 398. Cloth, $35.00.) Reviewed by James Fichter This is a thoughtful, well-researched, and beautifully written study. It is not ``mere'' commodity history and will surely appear on graduate reading lists. Anderson's examination of Caribbean environmental history fits into the growing body of literature on forestry and empire. As social history of Anglophone Caribbean labor it complements standard histories of sugar slavery. And as cultural history of the American consumption revolutions, it thoughtfully probes the fluid relationship between high and middling tastes as American society urbanized and industrialized in the nineteenth century. Anderson first considers the emergence of mahogany as a symbol of eighteenth-century refinement and high-culture polish. Mahogany was indeed a status symbol, so much so that angry mobs attacked mahogany furnishings hoping to take their human targets down a peg, whether those targets were Loyalists in the 1770s or free blacks in later decades. Next, the author considers the harvesting of mahogany, often a byproduct
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 18, 2013
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