History Book Club

Meets the last Monday of each month. New members are always welcome!

Book Cover, The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Vivian PostrelMonday, April 25th at 7:00 pm

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Vivian Postrel

From Neanderthal string to 3D knitting, an “expansive” global history that highlights “how textiles truly changed the world” (Wall Street Journal)

The story of humanity is the story of textiles—as old as civilization itself. Since the first thread was spun, the need for textiles has driven technology, business, politics, and culture.

In The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel synthesizes groundbreaking research from archaeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. From Minoans exporting wool colored with precious purple dye to Egypt, to Romans arrayed in costly Chinese silk, the cloth trade paved the crossroads of the ancient world. Textiles funded the Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; they gave us banks and bookkeeping, Michelangelo’s David and the Taj Mahal. The cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code.
Assiduously researched and deftly narrated, The Fabric of Civilization tells the story of the world’s most influential commodity.

“We are taken on a journey as epic, and varying, as the Silk Road itself.… [The Fabric of Civilization is] like a swatch of a Florentine Renaissance brocade: carefully woven, the technique precise, the colors a mix of shade and shine and an accurate representation of the whole cloth."

New York Times

“Textile-making hasn’t gotten enough credit for its own sophistication, and for all the ways it undergirds human technological innovation—an error Virginia Postrel’s erudite and complete book goes a long way toward correcting at last.”


History 2022 Book List
January - The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
February - Lincoln’s Last Trial by Dan Abrams
March - The Daughters of Yalta by Katherin Grace Katz
April - The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Vivian Postrel
May - Hidden History: An Expose of Modern Crimes, Conspiracies and Cover-Ups in American Politics by Donald Jeffries
June - The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
July - The Red Prince: The Life of John of Gaunt: The Duke of Lancaster by Helen Carr
August - Cleopatra: The Queen Who Challenged Rome and Conquered Eternity by Alberto Angela
September - Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
October - Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

Book Links:

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781541617629
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Basic Books - December 7th, 2021