The Devil's Milk: A Social History of Rubber

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $15.10
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 39%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $15.10   
  • New (9) from $20.70   
  • Used (5) from $15.10   


Capital, as Marx once wrote, comes into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” He might well have been describing the long, grim history of rubber. From the early stages of primitive accumulation to the heights of the industrial revolution and beyond, rubber is one of a handful of commodities that has played a crucial role in shaping the modern world, and yet, as John Tully shows in this remarkable book, laboring people around the globe have every reason to regard it as “the devil’s milk.” All the advancements made possible by rubber—industrial machinery, telegraph technology, medical equipment, countless consumer goods—have occurred against a backdrop of seemingly endless exploitation, conquest, slavery, and war. But Tully is quick to remind us that the vast terrain of rubber production has always been a site of struggle, and that the oppressed who toil closest to “the devil’s milk” in all its forms have never accepted their immiseration without a fight.

This book, the product of exhaustive scholarship carried out in many countries and several continents, is destined to become a classic.Tully tells the story of humanity’s long encounter with rubber in a kaleidoscopic narrative that regards little as outside its rangewithout losing sight of the commodity in question. With the skill of a master historian and the elegance of a novelist, he presents what amounts to a history of the modern world told through the multiple lives of rubber.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Think of our industrial structure as a living thing, the skeleton of which is composed of metal and cement, the arterial system of which carries a life stream of oil, and the flexing muscles and sinews of which are of rubber.”
-Paul Litchfield,Former President of Goodyear

“What people did to rubber was interesting, but more interesting still was what rubber did to people.”
-Vicki Baum,Novelist

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583672310
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,082,449
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. John Tully is lecturer in politics and internationalstudies at Victoria University in Melbourne Australia. He is author of four books: Cambodia Under the Tricolour: King Sisowath and the ‘Mission Civilisatrice, 1904–1927; France on the Mekong: A History of the Protectorate in Cambodia, 1863–1953; A Short History of Cambodia: From Empire to Survival; and a novel, Death Is the Cool Night.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Preface: Why a Book on Rubber? 13

Introduction: The Muscles and Sinews of Industrial Society 17

Part 1 From the sacred essence of life to the muscles and sinews of industrial society 26

1 Rubber in Mesoamerican Civilizations 29

2 Rubber in the Industrial Revolution 35

3 The Dark Side of the Rubber Revolution 51

Part 2 Wild rubber: a primitive "mode of extraction" 63

4 The Amazon Rubber Boom 65

5 The Lives of the Seringueiros 77

6 There is No Sin Beyond the Equator 85

7 Heart of Darkness: Rubber and Blood on the Congo 101

8 Gutta-Percha, Telegraphs, Imperialism, and Ecology 123

Part 3 Monopoly capitalism in Akron 131

9 "Rubber's Home Town" 133

10 The 1913 IWW Strike at Akron 149

11 Sisters, Brothers, Unite! The Rubber Workers' Union in Akron 159

Part 4 Plantation hevea: agribusiness and imperialism 183

12 The Triumph of Plantation Hevea 185

13 The Planters' World 203

14 The Coolie Diaspora 225

15 The Coolies' World 239

16 Coolie Revolts 259

Part 5 Synthetic rubber, war and autarky 281

17 The Long Road to Monowitz 283

18 Monowitz: "A Bulwark of Germandom" 297

19 The Only Way Out Is Up the Chimney 303

20 The Allied Struggle for Rubber in the Second World War 319

21 War Is Good for Business 331

Epilogue: Rubber in the Postwar World 345

Bibliography 363

Notes 389

Index 465

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)