Sunday, November 2, 2008

Up Before Daybreak: Cotton and People in America

Living in West Texas makes cotton a big part of our everyday lives; however cotton is meaningful to everyone in the United States. It touches everyone every day, literally through our clothing, and other items we use every day. Many people also make a living from cotton. Up Before Daybreak: Cotton and People in America, by Deborah Hopkins, shows that Cotton has been important for every person since before the civil war.

Having worked in the cotton industry I thought I knew a lot about cotton and its history, after reading this book I found out I didn’t know even half of the history of cotton all over the United States. Hopkins does a great job of blending firsthand accounts with the history of that time. She tells about cotton through the eyes of the people that lived it, helping the reader understand this part of our history in a personal way. It helps them relate. Also, the pictures in the book were very telling. Through her research the author really showed what it was like to work in the cotton industry.

I enjoy how the author separated the book into two parts: before the Civil War and after. This helps to break up some of the information, since there is so much in a 104-page book. This would definitely help in a classroom, when trying to teach about a certain time period in cotton’s history. It helps the reader see the time line of cotton through words and pictures.

My only reservation about the book was that at times I would drift away from what the author was saying. For that reason I would not use this as a classroom set in an English class. I would use it for research, or certain sections for background information. However, in a social studies or history class I would actually use the book as a textbook when studying the civil war, slavery, and industry.