Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia

Written by:
Gregg Mitman
Narrated by:
Amir Abdullah

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2022
11 hours 47 minutes
In the early 1920s, Americans owned eighty percent of the world's automobiles and consumed seventy-five percent of the world's rubber. But only one percent of the world's rubber grew under the US flag, creating a bottleneck that hampered the nation's explosive economic expansion. To solve its conundrum, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company turned to a tiny West African nation, Liberia, founded in 1847 as a free Black republic.

Empire of Rubber tells a sweeping story of capitalism, racial exploitation, and environmental devastation, as Firestone transformed Liberia into America's rubber empire. Historian and filmmaker Gregg Mitman scoured remote archives to unearth a history of promises unfulfilled for the vast numbers of Liberians who toiled on rubber plantations built on taken land. Mitman reveals a history of racial segregation and medical experimentation that reflected Jim Crow America-on African soil. As Firestone reaped fortunes, wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a few elites, fostering widespread inequalities that fed unrest, rebellions and, eventually, civil war.

A riveting narrative of ecology and disease, of commerce and science, and of racial politics and political maneuvering, Empire of Rubber uncovers the hidden story of a corporate empire whose tentacles reach into the present.
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Brian L.

When the author shows racism in action at Firestone/ Liberia, the book scores points. When the author tells us Firestone / America was racist, not so much

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