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Book Review: The Fabric of Civilization

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

The Fabric of Civilization is an absolutely fascinating deep dive in just how interwoven the history of textiles is with the History of Humanity. From our language to our culture, this books weaves together several threads to show just how entwined everything is.

I mean, look at the previous paragraph. Look at the words that have relationships to textiles. There’s a lot. The book covers a wide range of things and doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of history. The fact that people were enslaved and killed for things like cotton, silk, and dyes. I also appreciated that cultures outside of Europe were featured and their contributions recognized. It’s nice to see something that isn’t fully Eurocentric when discussing something that really is quite global.

The writing style flows naturally and isn’t too dense. I never felt lost, but it wasn’t overly simplistic either. There were lots of primary sources and a good use of pictures. The author interviewed several experts including those outside of the U.S. and Great Britain. There’s archeology, biology, and ecology too in this book that’s mostly based in history. So fascinating. There’s lots of interesting tidbits in this. Like the fact that a lot of modern germ theory came out of trying to save silkworms from disease.

Frankly this was a fascinating read and one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read this year.

I’d recommend this to people who are interested in history but also to authors who are looking to add depth to their historical works. Five stars.

If this is your jam, get it here – or request it from your local library. It’s a great resource.  I received a copy via NetGalley

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