What T Shirts Can Teach Us About Trade

"Who made your T shirt?" A speaker at a 1999 Georgetown University student protest against sweatshops turned that question into an accusation. Pietra Rivoli, a professor of business, heard something more: a challenge to find the answer. A few weeks later, she bought a T shirt and began tracing its path from Texas cotton farm to Chinese factory to charity bin. The result is an engrossing new book, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy (Wiley; 254 pages).

Following a T shirt around the world is a gimmicky narrative device, but it frees Rivoli from the usual debate over...

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