Not everyone embraces the "American Way." But as historian Walter LaFeber demonstrates in this highly original look at the effects of global capitalism, not everyone has a choice. Using powerful communications satellites in the 1980s and, later, unbridled capital, transnational corporations such as McDonald's and Nike and their media-mogul counterparts have infiltrated cultures from Paris to Beijing, understanding perfectly that what the world sees the world buys (in this case, Big Macs and anything plastered with a Nike swoosh). Of course, it helps when hoops legend Michael Jordan--the world's most idolized athlete--is pitching your products. His influence is pervasive: "McDonald's, blaring Michael Jordan's endorsement, operated in 103 nations and fed one percent of the world's population each day. 'Within the East Asian urban environment,' one historian of the firm notes, 'McDonald's fills a niche once occupied by the teahouse, the neighborhood shop, the street-side stall, and the park bench.'"
LaFeber transitions smoothly from Michael Jordan biography to socioeconomic commentary, first exploring Jordan as the great American hero, then turning a critical eye on Nike and its shoddy overseas labor practices. Jordan can certainly sell shoes, but at what cost? In the final chapter heading, LaFeber asks whether Michael Jordan is the "Greatest Endorser of the Twentieth Century" or "An Insidious Form of Imperialism." He presents evidence of both, but ultimately The New Global Capitalism becomes less about Jordan's marketing prowess than America's influence over the world's consumer habits, and, subsequently, the havoc that power can wreak. LaFeber's short (164 pages), lucid study gives readers a fresh perspective on the battle between capital and culture. Recommended. --Rob McDonald [via]